Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Mom's Health

NYR’s 2014 – Better Late than Never!

New Year’s resolutions tend to be a joke among the general population. Not that I don’t get a good laugh at all the unrealistic, radical lifestyle changes that people plan to put into action like flipping a switch, but I find it somewhat insulting that the plan to make changes has become so cliche’. Most of my friends make resolutions, and actually do work towards them. Either their resolutions are more realistic, or they’re more motivated than the average Joe; but I’m lucky to be around people who are inspiring me to continue working towards my goals well into the month.
I’ve flip-flopped back and forth about whether to do resolutions this year, and about how to do them. There’s a trend right now about choosing a single word or phrase that sums up your goals and making that your theme for the year. I like that idea, but don’t know exactly if it will work for me… but who knows. Once I getall of this out of my head and onto the screen, I may find a theme when proofreading!

So, I am going to do my traditional 9, and update my last year’s resoloutions as well (as usual). Here’s last year’s post; I’m late this year – it’s Jan. 14th already.

2014 NYRs:

1.) Food – Join the local produce co-op; cook with more fresh (and unusual) foods. Be more open to trying new recipes, including gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and other diverse styles. We’ve been in a rut food-wise and I am ready to get out of it! Also – freezer meals. I’m feeling freezer meals in 2014.

2.) Home Improvement – this is an on-going thing. We’re planning for a new roof in the spring, and hopefully the kids’ rooms will be finished this year (again).

3.) Health & Fitness – Rather than put pressure on myself again for a specific belt goal, I am going to plan on karate 2x per week, and biking or walking/running 2 miles per week. I also want to do two 5k’s this year. More would be great, but at least those two. I said one last year, and didn’t do it, so TWO this year! (Maybe even 3!)

4.) Kids – They’re really growing up now! I’d love for a family vacation to be on the menu this year (even if it’s a camping trip or weekend in Houston, Galveston or San Antonio). I really want to start bigger art projects with them. They’re always interested in my art, so I want to get them set up in collaborative projects with me, and with others.

5.) Husband – Date Nights are always in the plan! I’d like to put into use some of the things I’ve Pinned on my board for dates or sweet things to do for him. Mini-break would be just heavenly!!

6.) Myself – Art Classes; Journalistas, Mom’s Night Outs… all of this and more on a regular basis! Writing workshop – if I can find one, go to it! Write, write, WRITE. Also, wanting to get back into painting this year. Even if it’s Painting with a Twist ;)

7.) Extended Family – Visit my parents more, continue working on family history/genealogy research. Maybe plan a big family reunion.

8.) Community – We’re Spiral Scouting this year, in addition to our regular community service work that we do thought school. That will lend the kids even more opportunities to help out on a larger basis. We’re already signed up for a river clean-up and plan to pitch in on a creek clean up as well.

9.) Work – Finish my BFUSA cert., start looking into pre-req.s for school (for me!).

So there…. those are my plans for this year. Maybe my theme could be ‘Onward and Upward’…

2013 recap:

  1. Complete ‘Wreck this Journal’, and keep up with the Art Journalistas group on Facebook. (It’s a secret group; one for my IRL friends and I to post pictures and progress and meet up to browse each others’ books. We’re starting in January.) 2014: DONE!! I’m working on my second journal in this series as we speak (or as I type). 
  2. repaint living room & kids’ rooms (also includes new beds in their rooms, decor and the like) 2014: FAIL (klaxon) I painted about 2/5 of the living room and hate the color. Haven’t even started on the kids rooms. Why is this is HARD to accomplish??
  3. spend more time with Grandmama & Mom & Dad (My mom had a stroke this past year, and it really pointed out how little time we spend together. Plus, my grandmother’s sister died a few weeks ago – her younger sister – which really brought home how much time she may have left. Making more time to visit with my family needs to be a priority this year.) 2014: DONE (and continue to do. I could spend MORE time with them, but who can’t say that? Keeping them in my plans for this year as well.
  4. Harry Potter Marathon. I’ve talked about it many times… now is the time. ALL of the movies – one weekend. 2014: Meh… The kids and I have started working through the HP series as part of their literature and reading assignments. They’re enjoying the book, so when we finish a book, the plan is to watch the movie, then do a comparison diagram.
  5. Karate: keep on keepin’ on. I’d like to be a green belt (or maybe even blue!) by the end of the year… though I am  not the one who has the final say in whether or not I get to test; still, I plan on working hard, and I think that green is doable over the next 12 months. I also want to learn the Dojo Kun in Japanese. Also included in this res is going to be general health/fitness goals. More HAES, less sighing over a flat stomach. 2014: I took a break form karate from July-December. 3x a week was stressing me out with all the other stuff that’s always on my plate. I just burnt out of it. So I’ve started again this year, and am only committing myself to 2x per week (Tues & Thurs) so my weekend is free. Other health/fitness goals have suffered for the last 5 months or so, but I am back on track.
  6. Submit at least one writing project for publication (AnnA – gonna need your help on this). I also want to work on establishing and maintaining a regular writing schedule this year, and collaborate more with AnnA (my amazing writing partner – click her name above and read her blog!). Also, check out the local writer’s guild group again. I tried it a while back and it wasn’t my cuppa; it’s been a while though, so maybe fresh meat? 2014: FAIL  on everything but collab. with AnnA. She’s back in town though, so I foresee more collabs in the future.
  7. Date Night with Loverly Husband at least 1x each month. we did really well on this a while back, but have gotten away from it and it shows, so back onto the list it goes. Up this week: Django Unchained. At some point this coming year, I also want to take a mini-break, just the two of us. San Antonio or Dallas, maybe. 2014: Once a month was maybe pushing it – we resolve, but we have a life. The good thing about it is that even if we don’t get to go out alone together, we still enjoy one another’s company when hanging out at home, or with the kids. But a mini-break does sound heavenly.
  8. Family Vacation – we so very much need to do this. We’re in better financial shape that ever before, so maybe this is doable this year. 2014: Back on the list for this year!
  9. Run a 5K… or walk a 5K. I really want to do a Color Run and/or a Tough Mudder…. or aZombie Walk… or a Flash Mob. Something along those lines. We have friends who are into 5Ks as a family and it looks like fun. I’d love to get the kids involved in something like that. 2014: FAIL – but I’m not giving up! The color run is coming up, and we have a Zombie Response Team in the area now, so maybe a Zombie Walk is forthcoming ;)

So… that’s that. I’m not updating the past years’ goals like I have in the past. Some of that is irrelevant; much of it is still on the list.

I thought that while I was on the subject of goals, I’d make a few homeschool goals for this year as well:

1.) Stick to our schedule a bit better. We did well through October, but November and December were difficult to keep on-track. January has been barely holding on; we need to do better.

2.) Math manipulatives – get better use out of them! We have a ton, and they just sit in the cabinet for the most part.

3.) Make use of Pinterest in a more productive manner. There are so many cool things there – that’s why I pinned them!! Now, the trick is to use them!

 

In any case, I think I will stick with Upward and Onward as my theme for this year. How about you – themes for the year, or traditional resolutions? Share yours!

Warmly,
~h


April Update

I suck at blogging this year. I know it’s not an excuse, but (like most of you) I’ve had too much on my plate lately. I used to make time for blogging, but I haven’t been motivated to do so lately. I tend to work in cycles, so this isn’t entirely unexpected  from my end. Things have been kinda topsy-turvey for the last couple of months, but we are settling into a routine again, so hopefully updates will come a little more frequently now.

Let’s see…

February was pretty busy. For field trips, we saw a play (The Real Story of the 3 Little Pigs, which is based on this book - one of my kids’ favorites when they were small), visited the symphony, went to Moody Gardens, celebrated Imbolc and Valentine’s Day, met with our newly-forming Spiral Scouts group to finalize our charter paperwork, had a ‘s’mores and movie day’ with our local homeschool group and had our monthly community service day volunteering with our local Humane Society.

picture by Amanda Horn

picture by Amanda Horn

Aidan - HumaneSoc January26_2013

picture by Jean Bennett

I also tested for my orange belt in karate, re-visited my doc for an update and medication switch to handle my depression and anxiety (because I am a good mother who does not want to end up on the evening news for freaking out and taking off my clothes and running down the street starkers), and got new contacts (because vision is of the good).

Orange belt!

March was full of school-y goodness, with a visit to the ballet to see Snow White, the NOAA Sea Turtle Research Facility in Galveston, celebrated Ostara & observed Easter, went hiking in the Big Thicket (I’m Mayor of the Kirby Trail on FourSquare!!), the Exotic Cat Refuge in Kirbyville, TX, a hike in Village Creek, and another successful volunteer date with the Humane Society.

Shambola

April has been equally exciting in some ways, but less ‘school-ish’. Due to inclement weather, we’ve ended up seeing movies (OZ and The Croods) instead of educational stuff, but those links are to lesson plan fun, so even strictly social/leisure outings can be built into school). I was also sick for a couple of weeks, so we missed out on some pretty awesome field trips (like NANO Days at the Houston Children’s Museum). I was bummed. I also missed our Humane Society date. Boo to that.

I’m on the mend though, and on a personal level, April rang in both the celebration of my 36th birthday and marked the occasion of my first ever 5K event. Loverly Husband and I went with my sister and some friends to the Mud Farm in Sour Lake, TX to do a ‘mud run’ obstacle course. It was so dirty and so much fun! #213 Heather Thomas 1:19:56 – 111 of 121 runners <— that’s me! He came in 38th with a time of 0:43:50.

Mud Run 5K - April 6, 2013

picture OF me, BY someone who is NOT me…
Carrie, maybe?

In homeschool news, we’ve been working our literature unit pretty consistently. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked with the kids on a unit study; I’ve forgotten how ‘big’ this type of schooling can be. Even though this is ‘just’ Beyond Five In A Row, and ‘just’ The Boxcar Children #1, which is way below the boys’ reading/grade level, it’s still lent itself to some surprisingly in-depth lessons. We don’t necessarily have anything to show for it (other than the lapbook components), but it’s steady progress, which is a good thing. One of the more memorable lessons was on the construction of the Hoover Dam. The boys watched a half hour documentary about it and were pretty riveted. Another lesson was on planting blueberry bushes, which led to growing zones and was a nice tie-in to starting our garden this year. We’ll be planting more, but this was a nice start.

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We’ve also been hitting math and Latin pretty hard, which has been surprisingly fun. I found a Cambridge Yahoo group that and has been helpful in finding add-on lessons to go with book I. They also have a files section with worksheets and practice lessons and games.

I’ve been working with the boys on timed multiplication drills using Math-Drills.com worksheets. 5 minutes to do as much as they can. We’re working on adding one number each week and it’s going really well. We started with 1′s and that was a real confidence builder for them both. I am also using a workbook that I found called Multiplication Puzzle Practice by Bob Hugel/Scholastic. It’s divided into riddles and puzzles and the lessons are cumulative, each one adding another number. With this and the drill sheets, they’re doing quite well. I’ve also found that they are motivating each other (in between snarky comments and death-threats whispered under their breath to each other). Sorry… it’s been one of those days, LOL.

I’m also going to start using Lesson Pathways again, I think – at least for Language Arts and Science. I need something more… guided, I think. I tend to flit about from subject to subject in science and I really want something a little more cohesive. Their 5th grade Language Arts is using Dear Mr. Henshaw – a book I remember doing in 5th grade and I loved it. I think the boys will like it when we’re done with Boxcar.

In personal news, we had another Journalistas ‘dinner & coffee’ event, I picked up two of the other Keri Smith journals (Mess and This Is Not A Book). I’m more or less done with WTJ, but am having a really hard time getting into the other two books. I think I am going to start Mess first; TINAB makes me cringe for some reason. I’m not ready to explore that feeling just yet. Somewhat recently, I also went to see Beautiful Creatures and to a Happy Birthday dinner with PBJMom, and spent a Saturday morning cooking quiche and toffee crackers for a friend’s Blessingway. Loverly Husband and I had 2 date nights with our ‘best couple friends’ (to see Evil Dead and IHOP, and out for dinner and coffee), had my picture taken by a real professional for the BBC’s new website (coming soon), and am almost done with Leader Training for our Spiral Scouts group.

photo by Sarah Lynne Photography (click picture for link)

photo by Sarah Lynne Photography
(click picture for link)

Sprinkled between all this has been regular school days, pool preparation for the summer, board meetings an peer counseling with the Beaumont Breastfeeding Coalition, complete and utter enjoyment of the new seasons of Game of Thrones & The Borgias, taking care of taxes, visiting family, and cooking dinner, amid other things. I’ve been in a funky place lately, but I am coming out of it now. My life is full, and I am grateful.

We’re getting ready for the summer, which means summer reading club, summer movie clubs, hiking every week, my niece, Appleberry, will be back with us, and lots of time spent lazing about on the beach (if things go well). Hopefully, you’ll hear from me again very soon!

Warmly,
~h

 

 


New Years’ Resolutions: 2013

If you’ve been fluttering around in my world over the last few years, then you’ll be thrilled to know that my annual tradition of writing NYR’s, and re-capping previous year’s resolutions is still in effect.

If you’re new here, then consider that your crash course in how I do NYRs.

Before I get started, I’d like to say that writing NYRs is a tradition that I am quite fond of. I don’t necessarily write them to break bad habits; I view the practice as more of a goal-setting session for the coming year.

The religion that I was raised in forbade the making of NYRs, based on some such nonsense that I can’t even remember anymore… suffice it to say that whatever the history of the practice, the reason that *I* make them is because the beginning of a new year feels like a natural time to set goals. The marking of a years’ time is a good way to mark progress… and it’s fun. I didn’t get to do the ritual growing up, which is probably one of the reasons I enjoy it so much now.

Moving on then…

2013 Resulutions:

  1. Complete ‘Wreck this Journal’, and keep up with the Art Journalistas group on Facebook. (It’s a secret group; one for my IRL friends and I to post pictures and progress and meet up to browse each others’ books. We’re starting in January.)
  2. repaint living room & kids’ rooms (also includes new beds in their rooms, decor and the like)
  3. spend more time with Grandmama & Mom & Dad (My mom had a stroke this past year, and it really pointed out how little time we spend together. Plus, my grandmother’s sister died a few weeks ago – her younger sister – which really brought home how much time she may have left. Making more time to visit with my family needs to be a priority this year.)
  4. Harry Potter Marathon. I’ve talked about it many times… now is the time. ALL of the movies – one weekend.
  5. Karate: keep on keepin’ on. I’d like to be a green belt (or maybe even blue!) by the end of the year… though I am  not the one who has the final say in whether or not I get to test; still, I plan on working hard, and I think that green is doable over the next 12 months. I also want to learn the Dojo Kun in Japanese. Also included in this res is going to be general health/fitness goals. More HAES, less sighing over a flat stomach.
  6. Submit at least one writing project for publication (AnnA – gonna need your help on this). I also want to work on establishing and maintaining a regular writing schedule this year, and collaborate more with AnnA (my amazing writing partner – click her name above and read her blog!). Also, check out the local writer’s guild group again. I tried it a while back and it wasn’t my cuppa; it’s been a while though, so maybe fresh meat?
  7. Date Night with Loverly Husband at least 1x each month. we did really well on this a while back, but have gotten away from it and it shows, so back onto the list it goes. Up this week: Django Unchained. At some point this coming year, I also want to take a mini-break, just the two of us. San Antonio or Dallas, maybe.
  8. Family Vacation – we so very much need to do this. We’re in better financial shape that ever before, so maybe this is doable this year.
  9. Run a 5K… or walk a 5K. I really want to do a Color Run and/or a Tough Mudder…. or a Zombie Walk… or a Flash Mob. Something along those lines. We have friends who are into 5Ks as a family and it looks like fun. I’d love to get the kids involved in something like that.

Here endeth the Resolutions. As always, nine only (not ten, or eight or five or three – NINE. Because that’s the way how I roll {which is not a typo; that’s how my kids used to say it and I am posting it here so that I don’t forget it}).

And now for the updates!!

2012′s NYRs (posted December 28, 2011)

1. Home Blessing – this has been my first resolution for a couple of years now. It’s an on-going thing and I am wondering now how long it needs to be an actual resolution since it doesn’t seem like it’s completely accomplishable. There is always something else to do that falls under this category… in any case, this encompasses all de-cluttering and home improvement type activities from resolutions past. This year’s actual targets are the master bath and kids’ rooms: painting and decor.

UPDATE: I left off the ‘major’ home blessing resolution for 2013 because we’ve made a lot of progress in 2012, and now need to be more specific. Over the past year, we moved our bedroom to the spare room, opened up the second bathroom, moved the boys into their own rooms, repainted and re-applianced the kitchen (new table, new fridge, new dishwasher, new microwave, and the all-important new coffeepot). I’m looking forward to working on the living room and kids’ rooms this year!

2. Medication: get them filled, on time; stay on them. I seem to go through phases where I feel good and stop taking them, then need them again, but fight the need and so things deteriorate until it’s apparent that I am truly effed up and require them. So… keeping them filled and myself stable will circumvent this whole scenario. FYI, I have been diagnosed with clinical depression and last month was prescribed an anti-anxiety medication as well. It’s helping. I also take thyroid medication, asthma, and allergy medications daily.

UPDATE: This is an ever-lasting battle. Right now, I am only taking asthma and allergy meds, because breathing is important. I am taking a break from the anxiety meds, and I actually seem to have less anxiety overall… but depression is still an issue. So, it’s back to the doctor, I go. 

3. Plan and take a family vacation. As the kids get older and wrapped up in their own interests, Loverly Husband and I actually get quite a bit of time to ourselves these days. That trend will only continue as the kids age, and I think that the focus needs to shift to keeping them focused on the family. A family vacation before they get too old and too ‘cool’ to enjoy it would be nice.

UPDATE: Negative, Ghost Rider. We didn’t do a big vacation this year; we never have, really.  It’s back on the list for this year.

4. Get back to kid-friendly exercise. We slacked a lot on this in 2011. I want to get back to being outdoorsy even if it means just me and the kids by ourselves. Hiking, biking, swimming, beach – all that and more are on the books for 2012.

UPDATE: Yes! We hit the beach a ton this summer, and though we didn’t hike as much as I would have liked, we did FINALLY make it out to the swim area at Village Creek – more than once. Also, karate 3x a week for basically this entire year *totally* counts*! I am calling this one successfully met, and look forward to continuing in this vein in 2013.

5. Forage/Raw Foods Week: Loverly Husband’s idea is to take a couple of weeks and instead of doing our normal grocery-shopping routine, buy only foods that can be prepared or consumed without cooking. I’m open to it, and doing something like this with him on board will be much easier than trying to do it with him kicking and screaming. Since it’s his idea, it’s going on the list for this year.

UPDATE: Done! We did raw foods and 90% vegetarian for about 3 weeks in 2012. A friend of mine (the lovely Miss Mamie) has been doing raw foods for a couple of months now and is absolutely inspirational. I’m considering trying for a month in 2013.

6. Fashionista: this is going to encompass my hair/nails and wardrobe. I need to keep up with my hair, I want to get my nails done (and keep them done) and update my wardrobe in the coming year. Hopefully the ‘kid-friendly exercise’ resolution up there will help necessitate the actual need for new clothing… one can hope, right? 

UPDATE: Meh… I am considering this one half-way met. My nails are done, and have been done since October, and my hair has been in various stages of color since then as well. Currently, nails are black-tipped French manicured and hair is purple in the front (well, faded to blue and is in desperate need of a root job). New clothes? Not so much… I hate clothes shopping, and I love black… so anything new I buy just adds to the already exhaustive selection of black clothing I already possess. I need new jeans though.

7. Figure out Container Gardening: This year will be our third attempt at a garden. I want to do an herb garden indoors and a veggie garden outside. I’d also like to do a couple of fruit trees (a cherry tree??). I need to read up on them and decide where and when to start them. It’s part of our homeschool science class, so the kids can help, too. 

UPDATE: Another half-met goal. We did container gardening (and my rosemary is STILL ALIVE! Muah-ha-ha-ha)… I learned that next year’s garden needs to go off my front porch or in bigger containers. We have no roof over our porch, so the shallow containers we were using basically took the heat of the sun and the heat form the concrete of the porch and fried my plants… so lesson learned. Next year’s garden will be the best yet! Maybe straw-bales?

8. Post my art journals to DeviantART. I have an account and pictures of my journals, I need to either put them in a video or post the pictures. 

UPDATE: Ha! I posted ONE picture of ONE page… that is all. I need to do this.

9. Complete at least one writing project. Any of them. At least one.

UPDATE: Aaaaaannnd again with the no.

Normally, this is the space where I would post resolutions from previous years and update them as well… and after a little thought, I decided that I like that tradition, because it puts all of my goals (past and present) in one place. It makes for a hella long post, but since it’s my party, I can post if I want to {wink}. Feel free to move on!

2011′s Resolutions (originally posted December 29, 2010) & updates:

1: Home Blessing - this has been on the books for a while, and will finally see real progress this year. This resolution encompasses all the de-cluttering/cleaning goals from years past and includes anything related to making our home a nicer place to live in. We’re planning a major re-decorating/face-lift to our house in the spring, including painting inside and out, switching our bedroom into the master bedroom (which is currently doing time as a storage/library/craft room) and putting the boys in their own bedrooms. We’ll also do some appliance upgrades and redecorate. I’m excited!! – update: We completed repainting the outside of the house, and our bedroom is moved and decorated. That took a lot more money than we’d planned on, so the rest of the renovations will be carried over to this year. I’m not displeased with our progress – it’s part of home ownership, which I am grateful for. 2013: see #2 above.

2: Teach the boys to cook. SFK was bragging about her 9-year-old dd making a four-course meal; I’m jealous and so shall attempt to teach the boys more about the culinary arts this year. The goal is to have them make at least one full meal each by… December 1st. That should give me plenty of time.update: meh. Cooking, yes. Full meal, no. They have gotten pretty good at making simple things – following recipes and using the stove. That’s more from efforts of their own than me actively teaching them, but I am not displeased with that, either. I find that as much as I dislike cooking, I dislike for the children to be underfoot while I am cooking even more. Based on this year’s progress, I can surmise that their continued experimentation and learning in the kitchen will continue with or without my help. 2013: Last year’s presumption is correct; the children have continued to experiment on their own. They can use the stove and oven, and though I still haven’t turned them loose in the kitchen with the task of making dinner, I anticipate that they’re ready for that sort of assignment and plan to make that happen sometime this year. We may even plan out a dinner for them to make on their own (but that’s a little ambitious, so don’t count on it).

3: Attend a Writer’s Conference/Workshop (or a homeschooling one). Both would be ideal, but attendance at one or the other will fulfill this one. This is a re-hash of a previous resolution; before it was ‘attend monthly group meetings’. I think that the monthly group would be good to do, too, but I really want to try for a conference or workshop that is more in my field (so romance or sci-fi/fantasy or para-normal romance. And no, you can’t read them…yet). update: nope; I didn’t do either. I DID, however, work on a couple of my stories and stared a new writing project with one of my BFF’s, AnnA of TheEverydayAlchemist. We have weekly Skype dates to collaborate and toss some encouragement for our individual projects around… and just because we’re more awesome when we’re together and need to be reminded of that often. 2013: I’d seriously LOVE to make a conference happen at some point this year, but in lieu of that, AnnA and I have tentatively planned a weekend retreat in NOLA at some point mid-year to write, write, write. I sincerely hope that the stars align appropriately to make that happen, because I want it SO BAD.

4: Try veganism on for a week. I’ve tried vegetarianism on (it doesn’t fit), but never veganism. It’ll be a challenge. update: HA! I say. I didn’t do this at all. In fact, I did the polar opposite of this – going all meat for a few weeks. I tried the Atkins diet for about three weeks – it sucks; I don’t recommend it. Maybe in 2012? Loverly Husband has mentioned trying a meal plan that consists of keeping only raw foods in the house and ‘foraging’ so maybe something like that would be more attainable since I’d have his support. 2013: This year, I met the lovely vegan/Greyhound-loving Sabrina, and have had more of an inside look at veganism. Since her son is my son’s BFF, that means that my boys are exposed to vegan meals, and even have taken it upon themselves to learn about what is and is not vegan so that when thier friend comes to our house, we can feed him appropriately (though S makes it super easy by sending food)… but still… knowing them and seeing vegan in-action, so to speak, makes giving it a more serious try this year an attainable goal.

5: Personal Growth. This is the one that I am lumping the rest of my writing goals and all of my health/weight loss goals into, as well as parenting goals (such as putting into practice/deeper study of NVC). I always have a couple of these listed, and I think it’s kinda cheating to have 4 of the same, on-going goals… so. I’m also putting things like: continue meeting meditation and spiritual goals, making time for ‘me’, blogging/writing something daily, etc. Some friends and I are re-committing to SparkPeople.com for this year (so if you wanna join me, come on!). I have many goals in that particular department, but I blog there too, so that’s where most of that goes. update: Meh… I’m giving this a 75%. Some of this has been met and surpassed, other parts of it have been seen to but not quite as well as I’d like. See this year’s NYR’s for an updated and possibly more specific list of goals. I have posted parts 1-6 of 13 from the NVC book here on my blog with plans to continue this year. 2013: We had to give up on NVC. I am a sarcastic bitch and NVC can be used as a weapon just as much as other words… more so, even, because it can be uber-manipulative. Maybe I just don’t care enough and/or am a horrible person, but I hate people prying into my feelings almost as much as I hate delving into other people’s feelings… so that got shelved. We have, however, worked on other aspects of communication that are effective for my (and my kids’) personalities. Even Loverly Husband has gotten on-board, and with all of us working together, it’s much easier. I also have to say that proper medication plays a role here, for me, at least. As much as my mother hates for me to say it, I have a mental disorder that I will forever need to take medication to effectively manage. Managing my illness makes me better able to manage other areas of my life. As far as health/weight is concerned, I ahve long been under the impression that the two go hand in hand, and they may, to some extent. However, I am/ have been getting regular exercise for the better part of the last year, and have been building stamina and muscle. I’m damn proud of that, even if my pants size has stayed the same.

6:  Date Night with Loverly Husband at least 1x per month. We used to do this at least that often, but this year, it seems like that’s taken a backseat. Between homeschooling and him working more, it’s been harder to find time to go out. It’s not a ‘problem’, but I’d rather focus on this now, before it becomes a problem. One the plus side, we did get a mini-break in 2010, with plans for another in a couple of months. Yay!! update: We didn’t stick to this plan… nor did we get to have a mini-break without the kiddos. We spent our money on house stuff, which was good, and as the kids are getting older and more wrapped up in their own interests, we do get more time together. I think this year’s more family-focused goal is more necessary as the kids get older. 2013: We actually did get a mini-break this year; Loverly Husband and I went with my brother and SIL to the Texas Renaissance Festival for the weekend. I was sick the whole time though, so it might not count {wink}. I put monthly date nights back on the agenda for this year, but I agree with more family-fun as well. LH and I have a plan to sit down and plan some togetherness activities for this year – soon, before the calendar gets too full.

7: Dye my hairNote to self: For the love of all that is salon, please visit the beauty supply shop and DO SOMETHING about your hair!!!! It’s been months – MONTHS – since you’ve put color in it. You have 6 inches of natural hair color. WTF?? That’s simply unacceptable. One cannot remain worthy of the moniker ‘Rainbow Brite’ with one’s natural hair color slapping people in the face. Before the month of January is out, you must fix this! And keep it fixed. All year. update: for the most part, yes. I haven’t had roots beyond an inch or so and have kept dye on-hand most of the year. Go me! 2013: Again, yes… (even though I need color at the ‘mo). Next week, scout’s honor!

8: Plan for lunch out better. When the kids were little, I had food for them on me all. the. time. I breastfed them for 3 years each, and I believe that had an effect on how they eat now. They’ve always eaten frequent small meals throughout the day; with no big meals and no set times, that meant that as an in-tune mama I needed to keep food in the bag so that I could meet their needs. When they started school, they had to adjust to a more common eating schedule and I got out of the habit of keeping food with us. Since we started homeschooling, they’ve fallen back into their normal eating patterns but I have not. So my goal for this year is to plan for food better – packing a cooler with appropriate small meals and snacks when we go out. This will help me with #5 as well. update: pretty much met for the first part of the year, then sort of slacked off as the year wound down. We did Bento lunches for months, then were home a lot and I slacked off on making them. I do prefer Bentos and so do the kids, so we’re going to work on getting back to that on a regular basis again. 2013: We had a really good stretch where we didn’t do fast food at all, then it gradually started creeping back in. I need to work on eliminating fast food again. Bentos are still the lunch of choice, I just need to get back to planning for them better.

9: Do something about my wardrobe. I am putting this one separate from the ‘home blessing’ because it’s not really about making space or de-cluttering (though that does play a part). I have a bunch of clothes that don’t fit (both too small and too large) and that are out-dated that I’ve held on to. It’s time to let go! I don’t necessarily need new clothes (though if certain portions of #5 are carried out, I may), but I would like for the clothes that are taking up my space to be ones that I like and wear.update: I did declutter my clothing! I am in need of some new pieces though (but don’t expect a rainbow of colors or anything; I am still *me*). I also did the kids’ clothing and Loverly Husband’s, so yay! 2013: I think this is under ‘Fashionista’ above… I do desperately need to go through the boys’ clothing again… drat them for growing up so fast!

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2010′s Resolutions and Progress Report: NYE’s Written on Jan. 2, 2010

ONE: Continue making progress on the home front.
I’m going to include all the things that are in reference to “home blessing” from previous years, such as redecorating, de-cluttering and the like. It’s still in the plan, but it’s something that can be chipped away at slowly. There are a couple of specifics that I want to focus on like:
-my office (switching our bedroom to the office and the office to our bedroom) and the redecorating that goes along with that.
-the hallway bathroom (I’d really like to work on that this year)
-decluttering and organizing (all over)
**Semi-Accomplished** We actually lost the office when we started homeschooling. I do have to say that I’ve rocked the decluttering thing this year though. About twice a month, I take at least one bag of stuff to Goodwill and still have more to go. The switching didn’t happen, but will this year, and the bathroom also did not get attention (though I did paint in there). Everything will get a face-lift this year though… so yay!
2012: ongoing – I think we’ll forever be decluttering and simplifying.
2013: ongoing… but progress is definitely visible!
 
TWO: Take a mini-break with Loverly Husband without the kids.
I want to go somewhere, just the two of us, with no kids, for a whole weekend. It’s been over 8 years since we’ve gone away for some time alone, so I think we’re due.
**ACCOMPLISHED** We went with my brother and SIL to Galveston for a long weekend, and have plans to go to San Antonio this year. Yay!
2012: we didn’t get to do this in 2011. I did get to go to Ren Faire for the weekend with The Girls though. Not the same thing.

2013: TX Ren Faire with Loverly Husband (as mentioned above)… but I was sick the whole time, so dosen’t count.

THREE: Attend the Writer’s Workshop every(ish) month.

I really want to work on my stories/books/series this year. It’s once a month, on a Tuesday, and I think I need to make that a priority.
**Semi-Accomplished** I went to a couple, then got lazy. The main problem is that half of the writers didn’t say much, and the other half were SO not in my field. I am going to try again for this year though. Writing is fun for me, and I owe it to myself to hone my craft, even if it is only a hobby. For now. This has been updated for 2011′s list.
2012: That’s good advice, self. You should pay attention. 
2013: Ditto above, self. Look into the writer’s workshops again this year. It’s been a while; maybe there’s fresh meat?
 
FOUR: Get more kid-friendly exercise.
Now that the boys are older and more active, it’s a little easier to plan excursions with fitness as a focus. We all have kids and I have a bike rack for the car, so I think that’s going to be something we do more of this year. The boys are also into skating, so we’re going to get back into that habit again, too.
**ACCOMPLISHED** We’ve been hiking, biking, skating, swimming and Wii Fitted… and we’re continuing in this vein this year! Go me!!
2012: suckage for 2011.  It was insanely cold, then ridiculously hot and I’m being whiney and lazy. Better goals for this year!
2013: Karate, baby! And the beach! And more of the same for this year!!
 
FIVE: Go TV-FREE for one week per month and for one month during the summer.
I have no idea how this will work since Loverly Husband is completely opposed to the idea, but I would like to try it. We already don’t have much TV time when school is in session (no TV in the mornings, and no TV until homework is done) so it’s not like we watch a ton of TV as it is, but I do know that my kids are much more imaginative when the TV is not there to influence them and I want to see more of that.
**FAIL** Well, kinda. We actually don’t watch all that much TV. The boys are not allowed to watch TV or play video games on school days, so that’s the bulk of the week. The time they do have is squished between when ‘chores are done’ and ‘dinner’ so free-tv time is rare. Video games, however… they’re all about them and will spend as much time as allowed on them. We’ll be curtailing this come January 3rd.
2012: We’ve actually enforced this a couple of times. The kids have been playing more video games, but they’ve had less ‘free’ days… so I think it evens out. We’re going to cut them back this year again though. More outside time!
2013: I think we’re going to add this back to the list. With my mom’s hospitalization and recovery, the kids spent a lot of time being ‘out of the way’, which usually meant ‘in front of the tv/game’. I’m thinking that a strict ban on screen time might be a good thing, at least until a little more balance can be found.
SIX: Work on getting Mom’s old pictures into digital format

Mom has TONS of pictures that I want and since she won’t part with them I need to make an effort this year to get them in digital format, both for preservation purposes and just to have.
**FAIL** Yeah… not so much. I did get a fantastic external hard drive this year, so now I actually have space to put all those pictures. Maybe in 2011…
2012: Because I don’t have enough of my own pictures to put on discs, I had to take on someone else’s photo-library?? What was I thinking?? I am retroactively striking this from the list.
2013: YES!! That’s insane! It’s still a monumental task and I am annoyed with myself for having suggested that I should do this. Maybe I will get HER a scanner and external hard drive and show her how to do it.
 
SEVEN: Savings & Retirement plans
We’re doing pretty well in this regard, so it’s not a major thing to have to ‘resolve’ to do, but I like having it on my list because it IS something we need to focus on. SO the plan is to continue adding money to our savings accounts, to the kids’ savings accounts (and college funds), and into our retirement. We’ve been talking about getting a new car this year, and about painting the outside of the house and landscaping a bit, and it would be nice to follow through with those plans.
** ACCOMPLISHED** We bought a new (to us) Honda Odyssey in April 2010, also bought our house in June. Loverly Husband took care of all the retirement plan financial stuff, so we’re doing well! The landscaping and painting are in the plans for the next couple of months.
2012: Yep – Loverly Husband is still on top of this. Landscaping and home improvements are all still on the list as money becomes available.
2013: More of the same… handing money makes me physically ill – more even now than in the past, so he handles all of that business. Landscaping will be on the menu once the inside is finished.
 
EIGHT: Be more crafty
I really have missed arts and crafts. I’ve cut back on my “work and volunteering” schedule, so I am going to use the ‘extra’ time to do the things I enjoy. I want to do a glass project for the living room window, batik the curtains in the living room, make blackout curtains for our bedroom and the boys’ room, re-cover the couch… among other things. Plus, I need to work on scrapbooking and having pictures from recent years printed. I also would like to work on drawing and painting.
**ACCOMPLISHED** With multiple craft-days under my belt this year, and many crafty-projects with the kids, this is well done! Not these exact things, maybe; I made new curtains for the living room, decided not to cover the couch at all and blacked out my bedroom windows with foil and tape. Not as classy, maybe, but it’s hella-freaking-dark even at mid-day in there, so that’s done. The kids don’t want it to be that dark in their room…
2012: Two words: ART JOURNALS. Love them and have been having SO much fun with them! Eventually, I’ll have them all loaded to my DeviantART account, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’ve also made several crafts projects for friends, so I’m definitely still feeling the craftstravaganza vibe and hope it continues.
2013: I’ve actually added to my ‘work and volunteering’ schedule again this year, but I am determined not to let those commitments detract from my crafty time. My goal for this year is to work through Wreck this Journal, and I am doing it in a group… among other projects. DeviantART – yes… gotta do that.
 
NINE: Learn more about homeopathy
I have a fairly decent foundation (not that I’m an expert or anything), but I’d like to learn more and utilize this more in day-to-day life.
**ACCOMPLISHED** I’m not an expert by any means, but we’ve relied much less this past year on western medicine than we have in years past, and I know more about treating the underlying cause of something than simply masking symptoms, so I’d call this well done as well. I plan to continue educating myself, and am thankful to have several friends who are willing to share the knowledge!
2012: Actually, it’s not ‘homeopathy’, it’s naturo-pathy that I like/use/meant. And yes; still into it.
2013: Ditto… more-so even than last year. I’m all about it, baby!
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Here’s an update on 2009′s resolutions: 
Numero uno: Stop obsessing about things.

2010: Ummm… yeah. So I have an obsessive-compulsive personality. “Stop obsessing” is like saying I’m planning on not breathing this year. FAIL.
2011: no change.
2012: added an anti-anxiety med to my anti-depressant meds… it’s nice so far; need to up the dose, I think, but I am definitely less stressed over minor nothings.
2013: All hail anxiety medications! Best thing I ever did for myself. Even though I am currently in need to a visit to the Man in the Lab Coat, I recognize that many, many of my issues with ‘things’ have to do with my illness. Accepting that, admitting that, and working within that context has helped me so much.

 

Numero dos: Help the kids to listen to their bodies more and learn to understand the feeling of, and be able to voice “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired” instead of falling apart at inopportune moments.
2010: I’d say that this one is accomplished. Not in the sense that this is something that is ever “done” with, but I think it was something we worked on, not just for the kids, but for myself as well.
2011: This is an ongoing exercise for us. Food affects me and the kids so much, and it’s a struggle to respect its power without obsessing or over-focusing on it.
2012: ditto.
2013: more of the same

 

Numero tres: Stick to SP goals.
2010: Well… this one got pushed aside this year. Between being pregnant for the first part of the year, and then grieving throughout the last half of the year, I am just glad I haven’t gained 20lbs. 5 is acceptable and easier to get rid of.
2011: I’m back on the wagon, with some friends to help motivate and keep me accountable. We’ve already started, and are doing well!
2012: meh. I’m working on it.
2013: Suck it, skinny bitches. I am working on ‘health at any size’, and trying not to focus on weight.
Numero quatro: Finish DONA cert.

2010: Eh… I didn’t do this, but it’s still the same ole thing I have been debating about since the beginning. Certification is nice to have, but not necessary and may be too limiting. BFF and I are planning goals for WMC on Monday, so we’ll re-hash this again and decide what we want to do about it.
2011: I can pretty much cross this off my list. I’m not interested in being a doula anymore. I’ve also retired from LLL Leadership this year, so my attention is focused in other areas.
2012: Same; I am happy volunteering with the Beaumont Breastfeeding Coalition when I can and/or the mood strikes with no further obligation. 
2013: Same; I’ve taken on a larger role for 2013 with the BBC; and plan to pursue formal lactation counselor certification this year.

 

Numero cinqo: Continue de-cluttering house and down-sizing possessions. Get rid of things I don’t love, use or need, including shoes, baby clothes and extra furniture.
2010: This is a mixture of yes and no… yes b/c I have definitely been downsizing, esp over the last couple of months, but the baby clothes and stuff I have kept and will keep as there may be a need for them at some point. We’re still kinda unclear on that point, too.
2011: Ongoing… forever?
2012: ditto…
2013: ditto…
Nombre six (… switching to French now, because 5 is as high as I can spell en espanol without looking it up. It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.): {edited on 12/31/2010 to add that since ‘cuatro’ is how you spell four in Spanish, it would appear that I can only spell to three…lol. Funny that it took 2 years to realize that.} (2013: Also, wprdpress wants to autocorrect ‘cuatro’ to ‘coatroom’. I find that funny.)

Home Improvements: Repaint and redecorate my bedroom and re-finish the kitchen cabinets. Design and complete the mural for the boy’s room, and re-do their decor. Rugs for various rooms, extra storage bins and cabinets, etc…
2010:… not so much. On any of that, actually.
2011:Eh.. some of that got done, some didn’t in 2010. The mural is ever incomplete, but we’re painting everything in a couple of months, so it’s fine.
2012: ongoing… home decor is much more expensive than I previously realized, but we have a plan. My bedroom is done; kids are up next.
2013: Kids’ rooms and living room still on the menu, but now a reachable goal since the kitchen is done (except for the cabinets).

 

Nombre sept: Work on kids’ scrapbooks and get big pictures into frames. Lapbook the boy’s previous years’ school work. Better organize craft supplies and find the damn high-temp hot glue gun! Get a label maker. Try really hard not to label every single conceivable thing in my house. Figure out where the holiday boxes will live when not in season.
2010: …ditto.
2011: Yeah… not so much. That last part is a big one since we’re losing our storage room in a couple of months!
2012: Still working on some of this; not so much the scrapbooking thing – I’ve been art journaling, not srcapbooking. One day the mood will strike again and I will love it. Until then, it remains in storage. Plans to get the school room storage situation under control this year are underway.
2013: Jesus, the frakkin holiday boxes are still a problem. I have a plan for them, but need Loverly Husband to install shelving over the washer and dryer… then the boxes can live there. Found the glue gun! It was in a box of craft stuff that I had packed to make personalized clothespin ornaments for a fundraiser for the kids’ school a few years ago. I actually found it last year, I think… it was packed up for a LONG time, lol. Scrapbooking… meh. I’m kinda over it. Art journals have taken up my time, and blogging documents the kids, so I don;t ‘need’ to scrapbook, really. Maybe one day when they’re older….
 Nombre huit: 

Either buy gumballs for the gumball machine or get rid of it.

2010: DONE! We bought more gumballs. There are still some in the machine, too! 

2011: Why aren’t all of my resolutions so simple and easy to accomplish?? I think I’ll start adding at least one challenge to my resolutions list. This year: be vegan for a week!

2012: this is a throw-away resolution. I am including at least one every year, I think. 

2013: We got rid of the gumball machine, LOL Yay for de-cluttering!

 
Nombre neuf: 

… That’s all I can think of for now. I need to print this list out for myself so I can keep track of sticking with them. Now, I need to go back and see how I did for last year.
{Edited to add:  found a number nine!} Create outlines for all the story concepts I have written.
2010: Yes and no – I did outlines for some of them and have started an outline for most of them.
2011: I’ve really slacked on my fiction this year. I’ve blogged pretty faithfully though.. does that count?
2012: While not exactly kicking ass, I have been slowly plodding away at my stories. Progress=progress, yes?
2013: Added a few thousand words  spread out across several stories just yesterday, after a coffee date with AnnA… with plans to continue this year.
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As for 2008′s resolutions, Ha! I didn’t write them till the 6th last year, so I’m ahead of the game this year. To recap: 
1) It’s called a budget! I need to make one and stick to it. More importantly, I should probably let my loverly husband in on the what’s what so he isn’t surprised by the complete lack of money that we have going.

2009: Yeah… we actually have been doing much better in the cash-flow department this year. I’m fairly proud of that, so I think I can call this one “accomplished” and we’ll say maintain this instead of making it a new resolution.
2010: We did VERY well this year in this regard. I can say that we’re progressing nicely on this front. We eliminated credit cards a couple of years ago, so that’s a big hassle that we don’t have to mess with anymore. This year, we’re funneling more money into savings and retirement. I’m proud of that!
2011: Loverly Husband took over all the budgeting of funds early in 2010, so… yay! He’s better at it than I am. We’re definitely in a better place financially now that we were back in 2007/8. It’s nice to be able to look back and see progress happening.
2012: Loverly Husband is still Mr. Finance. I have less and less to do with money and I like it that way.
2013: I am hands-free on the money department, and couldn’t be happier about it. Thanks to Loverly Husband’s awesome fiduciary skillz, we’re insured, we’re saving, we’re planning for retirement and the kids have savings accounts… it’s been a long road, and he’s been working hard to make our family’s finances are in order, and I am eternally grateful that I don’t have to worry with it.
2) Complete my Childbirth Doula Certification and Trustbirth Facilitator Application

2009: This is kind of a done deal (DONA) – but I’m making it an actual resolution so that when it’s done I can cross it off the list. Actually, I’m not doing TrustBirth at all – after thinking more about it, I decided it wasn’t for me. It’s not that I disagree with them, exactly, just that I am a little more open-minded about things. As for the birth doula cert, I am still working on it, and am actually doing DONA now instead of CBI, which was what I was looking at then. DONA is different, and either way, I need certain criteria to certify and I haven’t been as on top of it as I had planned. Can I blame part of this on Hurricanes Gustav and Ike?
2010: see above.
2011: Let me explain… I had all of my certification stuff done – all I needed to do was send it in and pay for it. I was waiting on BFF to get her breastfeeding education requirement done so we could submit our applications together, and got pregnant, then miscarried… Since then, I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a doula, and therefore see no reason to pay for the certification. So. That’s the what’s what on this.
2012: ditto…
2013: no change…

 3) Keep my prescriptions filled and faithfully take my medicines daily … so that I don’t end up needing my rescue inhaler multiple times daily and end up on the nebulizer like I did 2 weeks ago.

2009: I suck at doing this. I HATE taking meds EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s a huge hassle (and could it be any clearer that I am barely taking anything at all right now, which is why I am defensive about it?) I have kept up with asthma and allergy meds though, which is a good thing… so this is a “halfway” for me.
2010: I STILL suck at this. Something about this time of year. I have not been keeping my Rx filled and have been using the neb for the last couple of weeks. Ugh.
2011: Better this year… I’m off of some of them and need to refill others. This is going to be one of those on-going things for me, I think.
2012: ongoing… new meds this year; anti-depressant & anti-anxiety. It’s helping. Now to stick with them.
2013…. see above notes on medications and illness….
4) Stick with SparkPeople I slacked off in about August, so I’m starting over with that, kinda. So far, a week in and I’m doing well, so go me!

2009: Since I’m basically starting over again, and it’s on this year’s list, I guess  didn’t keep this one either.
2010: See above.
2011: Ditto this year… I lost 80lbs the first go-round with SP, then my weight-loss plateaued and I got discouraged. I managed to keep it off for a while, then have, over the course of 3 or 4 years, have put back on about 30lbs. That sucks. So, along with a couple of friends, I’m re-committing myself. It’s in 2011′s #5.
2012: *expletive deleted*
2013: Skinny bitches can still suck it.

 

5) Wear hats more often because I like them.

2009: Ha! I SO did :) I bought, like 4 new hats and have worn them all. And they look awesome, if I do say so myself. Go me!
2010: I’m still keeping this one faithfully :) That makes me happy.
2011: ditto :) My hat collection is ever-growing and still awesome.
2012: chapeaux + NicCuinn = even more awesome as time goes by. This remains one of my favorite NYR’s.
2013: Hats… yes and double yes. My favorite is a black fedora, but I also have a black newsboy style cap that I just love (but currently cannot find). I think I need a few more hats this year.
6) WRITE!! I have no less than 7 stories outlined, and 5 more concepts written that I need to work on if they are ever to become actual reading material. So my goal is to devote a little time each week to write something, even if I don’t like it and end up deleting it.

2009: Fleshing out already-written storylines? No. Adding all the newly thought-of concepts into word.docs? Yes! So another half-assed accomplishment on my part. I’m going to add “making an outline for all story concepts” above.
2010: I have been feeling more creative lately and have started a couple of new concepts that need to be fleshed out. As long as I keep doing that, I am happy with this level of progress.
2011:Yeah… homeschooling leaves very little time for writing fiction. That’s a total cop-out, but that’s my excuse for doing absolutely NO writing this year, fiction-wise. I did come up with a new non-fiction concept for a children’s book series, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten with it. I’m making notes on it now (like right this minute …. okay – I have an overview of the series written now) – so that’s something, at least, lol.
2012: And Skying/collaborating with AnnA. Lots of it. 
2013: As previously explained, writing = yes, with AnnA.

 

7) Maintain the clutter-clearage that’s been going on. because I don’t want to end up like one of those people with an un-livable home due to all the unusable crap stored in it, I’m going to continue whittling down my collectibles (not that there’s that many that aren’t in printed format) and other assorted crap so that it at least looks like we have space in our house.
2009: I guess I’m kind-of on the same page as last year with this. I got rid of a TON of crap over the past year, so this is another “maintaining” for me. I’ll leave it as above though, because I have more specific goals in mind for this year.
2010: see above
2011: ditto
2012: ditto
2013: ditto
8). Make more time for me. As a wife and mom, I have a full plate – add starting a new business to that and you can see how much time I don’t have. So my goal is to take a few hours sans anyone else and concentrate on me once a week (if I can swing that, but once a month is probably more realistic).

2009: This has been a lot easier since both boys have been in school. So I guess I’ll mark that as an “accomplished” too.
2010: I have been keeping this one.
2011: Oh, I just thought I was busy before…homeschooling is possibly the biggest challenge I’ve undertaken yet. It requires almost constant thought and attention on my part. On the plus side, my Loverly Husband is incredibly supportive and has both encouraged and made it easy for me to go exercise with my sister or grab coffee with a friend in the evenings. My resolution for this year is to stop feeling guilty about it!
2012: Yes – homeschooling time commitment is eternal. Coffee out and a weekend trip to Ren Faire with the girls this past year was amazing. Definitely on the list of traditions to continue. Also, meeting more personal spiritual nourishment goals has helped. Planning to continue in this vein.
2013: 2012 was an AMAZING year for me, overall (barring a few unexpected happenings). Our school year went exceptionally well, I found a sport that I love (that also qualifies as ‘family time’), a spiritual study group that has become more like family, and a group of friends that is so full that I am starting to feel guilty about not having time to spend with any of them. I am truly blessed.
9) Whole Mothering Center I don’t know how much we will be able accomplish this year due to external factors, but I want us to accomplish all that we three are able to.

2009: The “three” isn’t the same three as it was when this was written, and I think that we’ve done pretty well. We’re well into our 2nd year, and with the Ike evacs and BFF’s birth, the last few months have been slow, but we’re gearing up for an eventful year with WMC. So this is another thing I think I can say “accomplished” on.
2010: 2009 was rough on many fronts. I am hoping that 2010 will be a better year for WMC.
2011: I’ve pretty much phased myself out of WMC. BFF is continuing with her own plans, including starting midwifery school in Jan 2011, and I will be involved as much as I can, but it’s pretty much her show now. My attention and focus is elsewhere these days, and though I miss being in the place in my life where WMC was my dream, I’m excited about what the future now holds, both for my BFF and WMC and for myself.
2012: I miss being involved, but am so glad to see BFF continue meeting her goals. Also very glad to see WMC and the BBC flourish, if not quite in the ways we’d first envisioned. I am still proud to be part of the community of support for natural mothering in our area. My attention is still focused elsewhere, but my future goals are leaning in a similar direction – I’d like to go to school and work in counseling with new mothers and families once my kids are grown.
2013: I have found it easier over the past year to start working myself back into the goings-on in the new mother community again. It was really hard for a long time, but it’s much better now. I actually enjoy talking to new moms again, and even holding the occasional babe (though I am quick to give them back when they start crying). I still plan to get into counseling, but that’s several years off yet; gotta get the boys into college first!

 

10) (because ten is a nice, round, reasonable number) I can’t think of anything else, but I’m going to format this like there is an actual resolution here anyway. because it looks better and because I can. So there.
LOL – I think it’s funny that I can only ever think of nine. I did the same thing this year. But it’s edited to add the writing one update ;)
2012: nine has become the tradition. I see no reason to alter that now!
2013: Nine is an awesome number ;)
Thanks for playing along, kids!
May your 2013 be full of joy and happiness, goals met and accomplishments celebrated. May your families be healthy and whole; may your every day be full of thankfulness and love.
Happy New Year!
Warmly,
~h

 


Summertime: Week 7

<—- Yes, THIS, exactly.

If you know anything about me at all, then you know that I don’t like to stay home. I will do just about anything to get out of the house, but most days, like ‘good moms’ the world over, I take into consideration the needs of my kids when I go out. In fact, I would say that I go above and beyond with finding fun things for the kids to do that isn’t stuck at home 90% of the time.

So when I start fielding ‘I’m bored’ – no, ‘I’m booooooooooored!!!!’, it makes me a little…. twitchy.

Add to that constant drone of whine the behaviour of my children during a class that I was taking on Sunday evening; I go once every 2 weeks; in this particular (rare) case, silence was of utmost importance and to help with that, they had 2 laptops playing different movies, PLUS a gameboy each, PLUS all the art supplies any kid could possibly want, PLUS books – manga – not even books with chapters or anything!! I totally set them up to succeed in that environment and they were horrendous – making messes, being loud, running in the building, being a nuisance in general – and this mommy has HAD. IT.

I don’t ask a lot from my children; I really don’t. They have schoolwork and chores and even that is kept to the minimum and tailored to their individual needs and abilities. We just had a week full of birthday fun, during which one child’s preferences were met for the most part (when feasible – we’re not that saintly… er … stupid?) and the other was given special treatment to compensate (because we wouldn’t want things to be unfair now, would we? {/sarcasm})… and so the only thing I asked was that they chill out and give me my class time to enjoy.

Aaaaaand, No.

So this week, instead of our schedule looking like this:

  • Monday: session II of Tennis Camp
  • Tuesday – hike w/ homeschool peeps, SRC Art to Go at AMSET, karate
  • Wednesday – BEACH
  • Thursday –  movie & karate
  • Friday – Big Thicket Summer Camp Class

it looks more like this:

  • Monday – playing outside
  • Tuesday - playing outside
  • Wednesday - playing outside
  • Thursday - playing outside
  • Friday - playing outside – and then writing a paper on ‘why we *all* prefer to have Mom in the Best Mood Possible so she doesn’t go all 1987 on our asses’. (We are a homeschooling family, after all.)

No TV, no computer, no movies, no gameboy, no field trips… just a whole lot of good, old-fashioned YARD to help them appreciate exactly how good they have it (and probably some sneaking off to Grammie’s next door to look pitiful and beg for snacks – she’s been warned though – no TV!!).

In addition to that, one of the things we will be undertaking in a serious way this year will be charity work. Our community has a soup kitchen that I only recently learned about, and I am thinking that we will be organizing and participating some food and toy drives around the holidays. I love them, I really, really do… but so help me, by all that is Holy, I will be extremely disappointed in them  END THEM if they don’t straighten out of this ‘entitlement’ crap and learn to show some appreciation!

Brats.

Warmly,
~h

 

 

 

 


It’s Not About Patience

Oh, if I had a penny for every time I heard some variation of ‘I wish I had the patience to homeschool my kids’, I could buy the bestest homeschooling stuff!

I would like you to think about that statement. What does it mean? First of all (and I recognize that I may take a tremendous load of crap for saying this), I think it’s a cop-out. We teach our children from the moment they are born. Everything they do is a testament to our ability to teach and support them as they learn, from breastfeeding, to sitting up, to walking to riding a bike – we’re there, preparing them, supporting, kissing boo-boos when they fall and gently encouraging them to try again. So saying that you lack the patience to teach your child is patently untrue (unless your kids were raised by wolves, in which case, I salute you {wink}).

If you’ve had a four-year old that is currently still alive and past that point, then you can most certainly homeschool your child, for NO ONE asks more questions than a four-year old who wants to know ‘why’. I know of no other scenario that is solely designed to test one’s patience than ‘Why?’ for an hour straight. No school-aged child asks that many questions, even when you’re trying to explain molecular science, prepositions and fractions (all in the same day).

When I hear, ‘If only I had the patience’, it kinda irks me. It implies that I possess something that you do not. Since I am a mom who takes medication for anxiety and clinical depression, I assure you that patience is not a virtue one must possess in order to successfully homeschool. There are days here where – just like in your home, I am sure – things go to crap the moment feet hit the floor. There are bad moods that must be dealt with, whiney kids that must be endured, savage beasts that must be tamed. I think the difference is having a strategy to handle those types of situations.

Most of us know when days like that are brewing. The smart homeschool mom nips it in the bud by feeding everyone, then shooing them out of the house. If nothing productive paperwork-wise is going to get done anyway, then take school on the road. We have a state park with a lovely pavilion area that is perfect for school outdoors. Between assignments, the kids can hike the baby bear trail or skip down to the creek’s edge for some stress relief and solitude before coming back and hitting the books again.

Then again, there are days where school just ain’t gonna happen – and you know what? They have those days in school-school, too. Those are the days your kids comes home and you ask, “What’s you do today?’ and the answer is ‘Watch movies!”. It’s perfectly acceptable to take a day off now and then – beneficial, even.

The other thing that I hate about that statement is that it automatically sets up a competition between you and me. Yeah, I homeschool – so what. Surely there’s something that you do with your kids that I don’t do (that I might even be envious of). That’s cool – rather than competing, why can;t we appreciate that we have different approaches to the many aspects of child-rearing, learn what we can from one another and support the rest?

So what is it, really, that prevents moms from homeschooling? For the vast majority, I think it’s a choice. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine – and it is a choice that should be supported.

Homeschooling does not automatically win you the ‘Better Mom’ award. You don’t get extra points; there is no gold star or special prize when your child graduates. We all educated our children according to the needs of our individual families – and those needs will vary wildly from one family to the next – from one year to the next, from one child to the next, and that’s as it should be.

But for some reason, there seems to be a taboo against saying, ‘I just don’t want to homeschool.’ I for one, think that if you know yourself, and homeschooling isn’t your ‘thing’, then it’s better to send your kids elsewhere to be educated. Homeschooling is a lot of work – it’s fun for most of us most of the time, but it’s work, too. If you’re not up to it, that doesn’t mean that you’re not just as dedicated to ensuring that your kids get a good education. You just have a different path to accomplish that.

Other families are not in a position to homeschool. Perhaps both parents need to work – or there is only one parent. There are those that manage to homeschool despite that limitation, but they more than likely don’t do it alone, and they word hard to make it happen. And those that do make it happen alone? Those are the ones that deserve accolades. But again, it’s not about being a better parent than you, it’s about what is best for their individual child(ren).

Still other families are happy with their local ISD or can afford a private school option (or charter school, or special theory school – whatever). Believe me, if our ISD was more interested in the child and not his ability to test well, I might have my kids in public school. If I could afford to put my kids in Montessori school, or if our area offered an affordable Waldorf style school, I would seriously consider it! But short of my husband working a second job, and me taking on a full-time job, that’s not going to happen! Some those kids who thrive in a classroom environment - and that’s fine, too. For every child who ‘needs’ to be homeschooled, I imagine there’s a child who just functions better in the hustle and bustle of the classroom.

I think that patience comment has become a convenient way to gloss over the real reason – explaining ones’ self fully would be too complicated (and invasive). Most of us can relate to feeling frustrated dealing with homework and equate that frustration with what homeschooling must be like, not realizing that it’s not even remotely the same.

I don’t know where all I was going with this, but it was on my mind and I wanted to write about it. Feel free to continue the discussion!

Warmly,

~h


Three Weeks Down Already?

Oh, Dwight… you do have such a way with words.

I was going to make a comment about time flying by, but then I found that picture and got distracted by fun stuff from The Office. ‘Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica.‘ There’s even a tee shirt.*So* funny.

Anywhoo…

We’re three weeks into our new school year. How did that happen? Didn’t we just get done with Christmas? I am shocked and amazed – we’re only four days out from our first break this year and everyone is alive and well. As stressed out as our last few weeks of school were last year, I am exceedingly happy to report that this year is off to a very nice start. I’ve also lost 12 lbs. of 128 lbs. since Christmas, so I’m a pretty happy camper all around.



We’re still doing our crazy schedule – the kids have karate 2 evenings per week and on Saturdays, and I am training to be an NSO with our local roller derby team. My sister is a rollergirl; she’s been after me to come play but seeing as how I am an utter disaster on skates, I think it’s best that I keep my involvement firmly planted on the ground. Being a non-skating official lets me participate without risking my tailbone. In any case, practice is one night per week. If we weren’t enjoying it so much, I’d complain about being over-scheduled, but so far it’s working well.

Plans for this week include attending a performance by our local symphony, attending a half-day full of JASON presentations at our local college, learning about Groundhog’s Day and the history of (which are Candlemas and Imboc), and various crafting and lapbooking associated with, and working on solidifying those pesky multiplication facts. I found a video that uses your hands for quickly figuring out 6×6 – 10×10 facts, and a way to do ‘short’ division (because long division is absolutely killing LBB). I started arrays with PeaGreen, but he’s not so keen on them, so I will be looking for other ways to help him with his times tables (maybe Mr. Numbers?).

We’ll be winding up the week, and the first four weeks of school on Friday with a review of what all we’ve covered so far and a look at what we may want to change. I like my new lesson planner layout; the boxes for individual subjects are smaller, but they look *super* full when I write in them now, so it’s quite visually appealing. I’m still kinda disorganized off of paper, but on paper, I’m the bomb-diggety. We’re still using workbox plans, but I haven’t been packing the boxes like I was. We’ve been using a file box with hanging folders instead of actual boxes, but the boys say that they like the boxes better so we may work on going back to that here in the next few weeks. I’ll have to work on space though; the school room is crazy cluttered right now (we’re working at the kitchen table as I type). Luckily, tax season is right around the corner, so we’ll be doing some home improvement inside and out in the very near future. That means storage shelves, new paint and planning our garden for this year. Loverly Husband is even talking about building a greenhouse. I can’t wait!!

Now that school’s over for today, I’m going to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and my Nook while the children are otherwise occupied in another room.
Warmly,
~h


Homeschooling is Hard

If you’d asked me when we started what the hardest part of homeschooling was, I’d have probably said something about the curriculum, or confidence. At the beginning of last year, it would have been ‘fitting everything in’ or making sure that they didn’t have too many gaps in their education’ – again confidence related with maybe a little scheduling thrown in.

Ask me now, going into our third year, what the biggest challenge of homeschooling is and I say it’s the time commitment; the never-ending constancy of being ‘on’. As either Mom or Teacher, I am on-stage from the moment they wake up in the morning to whenever they finally fall asleep in the evenings (despite the fact that bedtime is at 8PM and not including the occasional during-the-night call to action). I do normally get up around the same time Loverly Husband does in the morning since the kids have started sleeping a little later in the mornings – that gives me a little bit of coffee time alone – but not much.

When my kids were little, I was wholeheartedly committed to the principles of attachment parenting. I remember the kids pre-school years as fun and full of joy, and at that point, we were planning to homeschool so there was no change of scenery in sight. I was happy with that plan, but if I’m honest about it, I admit that there were lots of days that I was exhausted, overwhelmed and in desperate need of a nanny, a maid, and an all-expense-paid vacation to somewhere with sparkling sand and cabana boys.

As much as I enjoy my life, and I do recognize that compared to some situations out there my life has been nothing but roses, there have definitely been a couple of breaking points over the years that meant major changes for our family. These changes were needed, but probably should have been addressed sooner than they were. Once they were made though, the benefit to our family happiness was noticeable.

Never one for a pristine-clean house, when the kids were little it was pretty much always a disaster area. With little ones running around, it was really hard to keep them entertained and out of trouble long enough to get any real cleaning done, and whatever I cleaned, they’d messy again when I was in the hallway putting the cleaning supplies away. Since the kids were my priority, the house suffered. When PeaGreen was about 3 and a half or so, after a fight with my Loverly Husband, we finally got on a good housekeeping schedule (and the mighty Household Bossy Book was born). He and I both had roles to fill and after discussing what we had, and what we wanted to change, we were both more aware of the responsibilities that came with keeping up ‘our family’s’ home. It belongs to both/all of us, and though I don’t mind a larger portion of the housekeeping being heaped onto my plate since I am here, even LH and the kids have their ‘chores’.

Another breaking point came when the kids started school. I was working (unpaid), trying to get a doula business off the ground, and dealing with the constant in-and-out of school, homework, being an active PTO member and volunteer – it was a lot. Since I was gone so much, it was harder to keep up with all the housekeeping myself, and so the Bossy Book got re-vamped, with the kids taking on larger responsibilities as chores. Then, due to a variety of circumstances, including a tragic miscarriage, I decided to put my personal career goals on hold, and soon after that we started homeschooling.

One of the benefits to having the kids in school though – and one that I miss greatly at times – is the amount of time that I had to myself. From 8AM to almost 3PM, even though I was still ‘on call’ for the kids if needed, it’s not the same as having them underfoot all day, every day. The initial adjustments to homeschooling were all about the good – it was such a welcome change from what we had been dealing with that the day-to-day hadn’t set in yet. Even as much as a year or so later, I think we were still in the ‘honeymoon’ phase.

A couple of  months ago, I reached another breaking point. I was ready to quit; even went so far as to look up enrollment information for the kids to go back to school. Part of me was dead serious about it. Part of me was indulging in a fantasy. I was having a super bad day/week, and anything that wasn’t ‘here’ and ‘me’ was better than what we had going on – being stuck in a rut and not knowing how to get out of it. And of course, the reality that going back to school would not solve any problems; in fact, it would only add new and more awful ones to my already stressed-out plate. And so again, a necessary argument discussion with Loverly Husband about what we had and what was and what was not working was called for. He actually had a day off planned that week, and normally when he’s home, we’re off. But after discussing it, we decided to have school anyway, and let him see how things normally went.

Having a visitor for the day was a good thing*. Having Dad here to actually experience the way that we normally do school and the tactics that our (brilliant, clever and witty) kids have developed to circumvent my methods actually did help. I don’t typically harp on ‘discipline’ with my kids, but this is one area where lack of discipline (meaning ‘adherence to a structure’ and ‘self-discipline’ rather than ‘punishment’) was lacking. Instead of sticking to scheduled time frames, I was allowing pleading and negotiation when there really shouldn’t be any. School work is not negotiable (unless it is – in which case, it is presented as such) and is not up for discussion. That’s not to say that I don’t take their wants and needs into consideration; anyone who works with kids knows that in general, they are comfort-led. They’d rather take the easy route and that’s usually not the same as hitting the books (minor note here about child-led learning; I prefer a more parent directed approach until the basics are covered and their foundation is strong, after which their education will be more interest and strength fine-tuned. YMMV {wink}). Having Dad here to see how things work (and don’t) was a big help; his level of understanding what my day is/can be like, while still not the same as being the primary teacher, is better after having been involved all day. His suggestions and discussion with the kids, as well, helped bring us back to an even keel.

Another facet of this multi-layered issue is me. I have/suffer from/deal with clinical depression  issues, and though I wouldn’t normally describe myself as an anxious person, my current medication includes an anti-anxiety component that I am finding extremely helpful. I have been on and off of medication in the past and have known for some time that I needed to go back on them. I did last month and things have been improving. Adjusting to new medication is kind of like a box of chocolates; I’ve been fortunate that my side effects are few and manageable.

Just to clarify, this post isn’t just griping about homeschooling. My point in posting this is to dispel any notion of the ‘homeschoolers are perfect’ style stereotypes and to illustrate how we work through problems in our family. We’re launching into the beginning of our school year, so I wanted to present an open look at what homeschooling can be like on the inside.

Yesterday was our first day back, and we’ve made some adjustments for this year. We generally have an enjoyable routine, though there have been bumps (and will yet be more in the future), we are committed to homeschooling. Helping everyone in our family understand that, and what their roles are, is key to successfully navigating home life – and homeschooling.

Warmly,

~h

* for clarification purposes: calling Loverly Husband/Dad a ‘visitor’ is not meant to imply that he’s not an active part of our homeschooling. As a homeschooling mom, I require his support and participation – but his primary role in our family is provider; mine is child and household care – that’s just the division of labor. Though we both weigh in on the kids’ education, that also is primarily my responsibility to manage. Use of the term ‘visitor’ only implies that he is not normally physically present in day to day schooling with us.


Eating in the Raw

We’re trying something new… new year, new habits, new ideas… it’s a good time for that kind of thing. I figure since the world is apparently ending in a little less than a year, it’s time to make some (good) things happen, right?

A few months ago, my Loverly Husband decided that he wanted to do this ‘forage’ style meal plan. It’s not a full-on ‘raw foods‘ or vegan/vegetarian thing, but similar – more low-key than that, really. It’s more about simplicity than it is about buying into the ‘lifestyle’ that is usually (albeit stereotypically) associated with such a diet. His idea includes no meal planning, just having fresh foods on-hand to consume quickly and as easily as possible whenever hunger strikes.

Now, if you know anything about me from reading here, I can imagine that one of the things that jumps out at you is my penchant for planning all things with zero moderation. My Loverly Husband, who has known me since Kindergarten, could not possibly have failed to notice this trait, and yet somehow thought that I would be just dandy with it. Not.

Well, that was a few months ago, and I have to admit that the idea has grown on me. We’ve always kept kid-friendly foods on hand and the boys have been fixing their own breakfast most of the time for years now. To carry this trend over into lunch and dinner isn’t that much of a stretch, practically speaking. Admittedly, this laissez-faire,  go-with-the-flow attitude might have something to do with my current/new-again-as-of-yesterday medication, which has blessedly made my previously over-stressed state a thing of that past, but whatever the reason, I really have gotten on-board with the whole idea.

I admit that the simplistic aspect appeals, but so does the idea that such a diet would lend aid towards health and weight-loss endeavors. As we launch into a new year, I once again have all these aspirations of weight loss and exercise; maybe putting a diet/lifestyle into place that supports those goals will create a whirlpool of success? In any case, I put on my Optimism Hat and tried to figure out how I can satisfy my own need to over-plan and still follow this simple idea.

Upon scavenging Pinterest for ideas, I discovered that there are literally hundreds of recipes out there for raw/vegan approximations of foods we normally eat (minus the meat and cooking, of course). Since we’re not going all out vegan, I think that small changes here and there with an eye towards that as a goal will be easier to accomplish and less traumatic, gastronomically speaking. Following a recipe does require some planning though, so I think it’s possible to satisfy my need to plan while still meeting the raw/vegetarian-ish goals.

And so it was that I decided that starting today, when I go grocery shopping this afternoon, it will be with the following goals in mind:

  • stay in the produce section as much as possible
  • plan on whatever actual cooking to be done is vegan-ish (with the exception of perpetual soup/bone broth which is going on to cook this afternoon)
  • to refrain from being tempted by processed foods and junk
  • keep the basket filled with only what can be consumed by the four of us in the course of a few days (this will be a challenge because I am used to planning and shopping for two weeks at a time)
I also found a few links that are for beginners to the raw foods lifestyle that I found to be helpful rather than ‘preachy’: Raw Food Diet for the Beginner and Starting A Raw Food Diet. I also found a fantastic blog called Smaller Sarah in which she shows her pantry and fridge before and after shots. I’m impressed and amazed at the neatness of the pantry and the lovely baskets full of yummy cold fresh foods. I want my fridge to look like that! I would take pictures of the befores now, but I am embarrassed to show you my fridge and after the holidays and a week’s vacation for my Loverly Husband, my pantry is in similar disrepair. But I may update this post with after pictures.

We start school again next week. Wish me luck!

Warmly,
~h

P.S. It occurs to me after looking over my list that it’s not terribly ‘vegan/vegetarian’. But considering that virtually every meal for the past.. all of eternity has revolved around whatever meat-main-course and my current shopping list contains ’2 whole chickens’ instead of 10-12 meats for four, I’m calling that progress.

P.P.S. And in case you were wondering, I am not one of those ‘save the animals’ PETA people. I fall more on the ‘meat is tasty murder’ side of the fence, supported by the presence of both canine teeth (for ripping, shredding) and molars (for grinding and mashing) in humans, which (to me) indicate that humans are omnivores and therefore are designed to consume flesh.


Homeschooling, Year 2: Done!

We made it through our second year of homeschooling! We are officially done with this year (not this grade). Sorry for the lack of posting, but we’ve been making the most of our Winter Break, which is also our official break between school years.

I gotta tell ya, I am so glad for this year to be done. I love homeschooling, don’t get me wrong, but it’s definitely been more of a struggle over the past few months than it has been before. Part of that is me; I have been on antidepressants for a couple of years and have been needing to change my medication for a while now. I’ve done that and have added an anti-anxiety medication, which I wouldn’t have thought I’d needed, but have found is definitely helping. In any case, I do expect that with proper management of my own health, my stress level will decrease, which can only help things.

In other news, we’ve been quite the crafty-kins around here. I made some of the cutest little hand warmers for all of us from felt and rice. I used flower-shaped cookie cutters, but any shape will work. You can heat them up in the microwave, then slip them inside your pockets or even shoes to warm up freezing fingers or toes. It’s not nearly cold enough for that around here (we’ve only come close to freezing temperatures once so far), but I am sure they’ll come in handy in January & February when the Texas weather finally catches on that winter months are supposed to be cold.

December is a busy month for us; we celebrated LBB’s 10th and Loverly Husband’s 35th birthdays this month in addition to Yule and Christmas, both of which were amazing. LBB got to hang with his friends for his birthday and do some lazer-tagging, and the kids both got air-soft guns for Christmas in addition to a handful of video games and Kinect for XBox. I’ve been playing with my new Nook and Loverly Husband’s been on vacation this week and immersing himself in the world of Skyrim.

Though it may seem like it, I haven’t been neglecting school stuff. I updated the banner here at This Adventure Life for the new school year and spent a few hours last week updating my lesson planner pages and getting them ready to print and bind. I added the workbox plan sheet into my normal lesson planner since we’ve been sticking to that.

We’re also going to give the boys’ STARS planners another go this year; hopefully with better success. I think with the workboxes (which we will continue for this coming year), the planners will work a bit better. We’re continuing the goal of helping them become more self-sufficient with their school work; hopefully between workboxes and their planners they’ll have the tools they need to really take on more responsibility. We won’t be starting our new school year until the second week in January, but I’ll try have all of the new pages in an upcoming ‘lesson planning’ post sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Hope you’re all enjoying your break (if you took one), and felicitations for the New Year!

Warmly,
~h


NYR: The 2012 Version

So this will be my second NYE post on this blog, since abandoning my MySpace blog a couple of years ago. For most of you, this info will be irrelevant, but since it’s become tradition for me, I am posting it anyway.

My usual format is to post this year’s resolutions, and then do a re-cap of previous year’s with progress reports as needed. It’s a long post (so feel free to skip most of it. I’m blogging this more for my own accountability and record-keeping than for public consumption), but I find it entertaining and see no reason to alter that format, so without further adieu, here are 2012′s New Year’s Resolutions (amazingly, I’m running ahead of schedule here, posting this almost a week before the new year. Go, me, all organized and stuff!):

1. Home Blessing – this has been my first resolution for a couple of years now. It’s an on-going thing and I am wondering now how long it needs to be an actual resolution since it doesn’t seem like it’s completely accomplishable. There is always something else to do that falls under this category… in any case, this encompasses all de-cluttering and home improvement type activities from resolutions past. This year’s actual targets are the master bath and kids’ rooms: painting and decor.

2. Medication: get them filled, on time; stay on them. I seem to go through phases where I feel good and stop taking them, then need them again, but fight the need and so things deteriorate until it’s apparent that I am truly effed up and require them. So… keeping them filled and myself stable will circumvent this whole scenario. FYI, I have been diagnosed with clinical depression and last month was prescribed an anti-anxiety medication as well. It’s helping. I also take thyroid medication, asthma, and allergy medications daily.

3. Plan and take a family vacation. As the kids get older and wrapped up in their own interests, Loverly Husband and I actually get quite a bit of time to ourselves these days. That trend will only continue as the kids age, and I think that the focus needs to shift to keeping them focused on the family. A family vacation before they get too old and too ‘cool’ to enjoy it would be nice.

4. Get back to kid-friendly exercise. We slacked a lot on this in 2011. I want to get back to being outdoorsy even if it means just me and the kids by ourselves. Hiking, biking, swimming, beach – all that and more are on the books for 2012.

5. Forage/Raw Foods Week: Loverly Husband’s idea is to take a couple of weeks and instead of doing our normal grocery-shopping routine, buy only foods that can be prepared or consumed without cooking. I’m open to it, and doing something like this with him on board will be much easier than trying to do it with him kicking and screaming. Since it’s his idea, it’s going on the list for this year.

6. Fashionista: this is going to encompass my hair/nails and wardrobe. I need to keep up with my hair, I want to get my nails done (and keep them done) and update my wardrobe in the coming year. Hopefully the ‘kid-friendly exercise’ resolution up there will help necessitate the actual need for new clothing… one can hope, right?

7. Figure out Container Gardening: This year will be our third attempt at a garden. I want to do an herb garden indoors and a veggie garden outside. I’d also like to do a couple of fruit trees (a cherry tree??). I need to read up on them and decide where and when to start them. It’s part of our homeschool science class, so the kids can help, too.

8. Post my art journals to DeviantART. I have an account and pictures of my journals, I need to either put them in a video or post the pictures.

9. Complete at least one writing project. Any of them. At least one.

I would do 10 because it’s such a nice, round number, but it’s become somewhat of a tradition to only make 9. So that’s my list for this year. I don’t usually post progress reports during the year, so don’t feel bad if you forget all about them until the end of December.

This officially concludes the ‘current resolutions’ portion of this post. If you’re interested to see how previous resolutions have held up over the years, feel free to read on. I’ve been updating each year’s resolutions for the past few years; it’s interesting to me to see how my goals and things have changed.

2011′s Resolutions (originally posted December 29, 2010) & updates:

1: Home Blessing - this has been on the books for a while, and will finally see real progress this year. This resolution encompasses all the de-cluttering/cleaning goals from years past and includes anything related to making our home a nicer place to live in. We’re planning a major re-decorating/face-lift to our house in the spring, including painting inside and out, switching our bedroom into the master bedroom (which is currently doing time as a storage/library/craft room) and putting the boys in their own bedrooms. We’ll also do some appliance upgrades and redecorate. I’m excited!! – update: We completed repainting the outside of the house, and our bedroom is moved and decorated. That took a lot more money than we’d planned on, so the rest of the renovations will be carried over to this year. I’m not displeased with our progress – it’s part of home ownership, which I am grateful for.

2: Teach the boys to cook. SFK was bragging about her 9-year-old dd making a four-course meal; I’m jealous and so shall attempt to teach the boys more about the culinary arts this year. The goal is to have them make at least one full meal each by… December 1st. That should give me plenty of time. update: meh. Cooking, yes. Full meal, no. They have gotten pretty good at making simple things – following recipes and using the stove. That’s more from efforts of their own than me actively teaching them, but I am not displeased with that, either. I find that as much as I dislike cooking, I dislike for the children to be underfoot while I am cooking even more. Based on this year’s progress, I can surmise that their continued experimentation and learning in the kitchen will continue with or without my help.

3: Attend a Writer’s Conference/Workshop (or a homeschooling one). Both would be ideal, but attendance at one or the other will fulfill this one. This is a re-hash of a previous resolution; before it was ‘attend monthly group meetings’. I think that the monthly group would be good to do, too, but I really want to try for a conference or workshop that is more in my field (so romance or sci-fi/fantasy or para-normal romance. And no, you can’t read them…yet). update: nope; I didn’t do either. I DID, however, work on a couple of my stories and stared a new writing project with one of my BFF’s, AnnA of TheEverydayAlchemist. We have weekly Skype dates to collaborate and toss some encouragement for our individual projects around… and just because we’re more awesome when we’re together and need to be reminded of that often.

4: Try veganism on for a week. I’ve tried vegetarianism on (it doesn’t fit), but never veganism. It’ll be a challenge. update: HA! I say. I didn’t do this at all. In fact, I did the polar opposite of this – going all meat for a few weeks. I tried the Atkins diet for about three weeks – it sucks; I don’t recommend it. Maybe in 2012? Loverly Husband has mentioned trying a meal plan that consists of keeping only raw foods in the house and ‘foraging’ so maybe something like that would be more attainable since I’d have his support.

5: Personal Growth. This is the one that I am lumping the rest of my writing goals and all of my health/weight loss goals into, as well as parenting goals (such as putting into practice/deeper study of NVC). I always have a couple of these listed, and I think it’s kinda cheating to have 4 of the same, on-going goals… so. I’m also putting things like: continue meeting meditation and spiritual goals, making time for ‘me’, blogging/writing something daily, etc. Some friends and I are re-committing to SparkPeople.com for this year (so if you wanna join me, come on!). I have many goals in that particular department, but I blog there too, so that’s where most of that goes. update: Meh… I’m giving this a 75%. Some of this has been met and surpassed, other parts of it have been seen to but not quite as well as I’d like. See this year’s NYR’s for an updated and possibly more specific list of goals. I have posted parts 1-6 of 13 from the NVC book here on my blog with plans to continue this year.

6:  Date Night with Loverly Husband at least 1x per month. We used to do this at least that often, but this year, it seems like that’s taken a backseat. Between homeschooling and him working more, it’s been harder to find time to go out. It’s not a ‘problem’, but I’d rather focus on this now, before it becomes a problem. One the plus side, we did get a mini-break in 2010, with plans for another in a couple of months. Yay!! update: We didn’t stick to this plan… nor did we get to have a mini-break without the kiddos. We spent our money on house stuff, which was good, and as the kids are getting older and more wrapped up in their own interests, we do get more time together. I think this year’s more family-focused goal is more necessary as the kids get older.

7: Dye my hairNote to self: For the love of all that is salon, please visit the beauty supply shop and DO SOMETHING about your hair!!!! It’s been months – MONTHS – since you’ve put color in it. You have 6 inches of natural hair color. WTF?? That’s simply unacceptable. One cannot remain worthy of the moniker ‘Rainbow Brite’ with one’s natural hair color slapping people in the face. Before the month of January is out, you must fix this! And keep it fixed. All year. update: for the most part, yes. I haven’t had roots beyond an inch or so and have kept dye on-hand most of the year. Go me!

8: Plan for lunch out better. When the kids were little, I had food for them on me all. the. time. I breastfed them for 3 years each, and I believe that had an effect on how they eat now. They’ve always eaten frequent small meals throughout the day; with no big meals and no set times, that meant that as an in-tune mama I needed to keep food in the bag so that I could meet their needs. When they started school, they had to adjust to a more common eating schedule and I got out of the habit of keeping food with us. Since we started homeschooling, they’ve fallen back into their normal eating patterns but I have not. So my goal for this year is to plan for food better – packing a cooler with appropriate small meals and snacks when we go out. This will help me with #5 as well. update: pretty much met for the first part of the year, then sort of slacked off as the year wound down. We did Bento lunches for months, then were home a lot and I slacked off on making them. I do prefer Bentos and so do the kids, so we’re going to work on getting back to that on a regular basis again.

9: Do something about my wardrobe. I am putting this one separate from the ‘home blessing’ because it’s not really about making space or de-cluttering (though that does play a part). I have a bunch of clothes that don’t fit (both too small and too large) and that are out-dated that I’ve held on to. It’s time to let go! I don’t necessarily need new clothes (though if certain portions of #5 are carried out, I may), but I would like for the clothes that are taking up my space to be ones that I like and wear. update: I did declutter my clothing! I am in need of some new pieces though (but don’t expect a rainbow of colors or anything; I am still *me*). I also did the kids’ clothing and Loverly Husband’s, so yay!

2010′s Resolutions and Progress Report: NYE’s Written on Jan. 2, 2010: 

ONE: Continue making progress on the home front.
I’m going to include all the things that are in reference to “home blessing” from previous years, such as redecorating, de-cluttering and the like. It’s still in the plan, but it’s something that can be chipped away at slowly. There are a couple of specifics that I want to focus on like:
-my office (switching our bedroom to the office and the office to our bedroom) and the redecorating that goes along with that.
-the hallway bathroom (I’d really like to work on that this year)
-decluttering and organizing (all over)
**Semi-Accomplished** We actually lost the office when we started homeschooling. I do have to say that I’ve rocked the decluttering thing this year though. About twice a month, I take at least one bag of stuff to Goodwill and still have more to go. The switching didn’t happen, but will this year, and the bathroom also did not get attention (though I did paint in there). Everything will get a face-lift this year though… so yay!
2012: ongoing – I think we’ll forever be decluttering and simplifying.

TWO: Take a mini-break with Loverly Husband without the kids.
I want to go somewhere, just the two of us, with no kids, for a whole weekend. It’s been over 8 years since we’ve gone away for some time alone, so I think we’re due.
**ACCOMPLISHED** We went with my brother and SIL to Galveston for a long weekend, and have plans to go to San Antonio this year. Yay!
2012: we didn’t get to do this in 2011. I did get to go to Ren Faire for the weekend with The Girls though. Not the same thing.

THREE: Attend the Writer’s Workshop every(ish) month.
I really want to work on my stories/books/series this year. It’s once a month, on a Tuesday, and I think I need to make that a priority.
**Semi-Accomplished** I went to a couple, then got lazy. The main problem is that half of the writers didn’t say much, and the other half were SO not in my field. I am going to try again for this year though. Writing is fun for me, and I owe it to myself to hone my craft, even if it is only a hobby. For now. This has been updated for 2011′s list.
2012: That’s good advice, self. You should pay attention. 

FOUR: Get more kid-friendly exercise.
Now that the boys are older and more active, it’s a little easier to plan excursions with fitness as a focus. We all have kids and I have a bike rack for the car, so I think that’s going to be something we do more of this year. The boys are also into skating, so we’re going to get back into that habit again, too.
**ACCOMPLISHED** We’ve been hiking, biking, skating, swimming and Wii Fitted… and we’re continuing in this vein this year! Go me!!
2012: suckage for 2011.  It was insanely cold, then ridiculously hot and I’m being whiney and lazy. Better goals for this year!

FIVE: Go TV-FREE for one week per month and for one month during the summer.
I have no idea how this will work since Loverly Husband is completely opposed to the idea, but I would like to try it. We already don’t have much TV time when school is in session (no TV in the mornings, and no TV until homework is done) so it’s not like we watch a ton of TV as it is, but I do know that my kids are much more imaginative when the TV is not there to influence them and I want to see more of that.
**FAIL** Well, kinda. We actually don’t watch all that much TV. The boys are not allowed to watch TV or play video games on school days, so that’s the bulk of the week. The time they do have is squished between when ‘chores are done’ and ‘dinner’ so free-tv time is rare. Video games, however… they’re all about them and will spend as much time as allowed on them. We’ll be curtailing this come January 3rd.
2012: We’ve actually enforced this a couple of times. The kids have been playing more video games, but they’ve had less ‘free’ days… so I think it evens out. We’re going to cut them back this year again though. More outside time!

SIX: Work on getting Mom’s old pictures into digital format
Mom has TONS of pictures that I want and since she won’t part with them I need to make an effort this year to get them in digital format, both for preservation purposes and just to have.
**FAIL** Yeah… not so much. I did get a fantastic external hard drive this year, so now I actually have space to put all those pictures. Maybe in 2011…
2012: Because I don’t have enough of my own pictures to put on discs, I had to take on someone else’s photo-library?? What was I thinking?? I am retroactively striking this from the list.

SEVEN: Savings & Retirement plans
We’re doing pretty well in this regard, so it’s not a major thing to have to ‘resolve’ to do, but I like having it on my list because it IS something we need to focus on. SO the plan is to continue adding money to our savings accounts, to the kids’ savings accounts (and college funds), and into our retirement. We’ve been talking about getting a new car this year, and about painting the outside of the house and landscaping a bit, and it would be nice to follow through with those plans.
** ACCOMPLISHED** We bought a new (to us) Honda Odyssey in April 2010, about bought our house in June. Loverly Husband took care of all the retirement plan financial stuff, so we’re doing well! The landscaping and painting are in the plans for the next couple of months.
2012: Yep – Loverly Husband is still on top of this. Landscaping and home improvements are all still on the list as money becomes available.

EIGHT: Be more crafty
I really have missed arts and crafts. I’ve cut back on my “work and volunteering” schedule, so I am going to use the ‘extra’ time to do the things I enjoy. I want to do a glass project for the living room window, batik the curtains in the living room, make blackout curtains for our bedroom and the boys’ room, re-cover the couch… among other things. Plus, I need to work on scrapbooking and having pictures from recent years printed. I also would like to work on drawing and painting.
**ACCOMPLISHED** With multiple craft-days under my belt this year, and many crafty-projects with the kids, this is well done! Not these exact things, maybe; I made new curtains for the living room, decided not to cover the couch at all and blacked out my bedroom windows with foil and tape. Not as classy, maybe, but it’s hella-freaking-dark even at mid-day in there, so that’s done. The kids don’t want it to be that dark in their room…
2012: Two words: ART JOURNALS. Love them and have been having SO much fun with them! Eventually, I’ll have them all loaded to my DeviantART account, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’ve also made several crafts projects for friends, so I’m definitely still feeling the craftstravaganza vibe and hope it continues.

NINE: Learn more about homeopathy
I have a fairly decent foundation (not that I’m an expert or anything), but I’d like to learn more and utilize this more in day-to-day life.
**ACCOMPLISHED** I’m not an expert by any means, but we’ve relied much less this past year on western medicine than we have in years past, and I know more about treating the underlying cause of something than simply masking symptoms, so I’d call this well done as well. I plan to continue educating myself, and am thankful to have several friends who are willing to share the knowledge!
2012: Actually, it’s not ‘homeopathy’, it’s naturo-pathy that I like/use/meant. And yes; still into it.

Here’s an update on 2009′s resolutions:


Numero uno:
Stop obsessing about things.
2010: Ummm… yeah. So I have an obsessive-compulsive personality. “Stop obsessing” is like saying I’m planning on not breathing this year. FAIL.
2011: no change.
2012: added an anti-anxiety med to my anti-depressant meds… it’s nice so far; need to up the dose, I think, but I am definitely less stressed over minor nothings.


Numero dos:
Help the kids to listen to their bodies more and learn to understand the feeling of, and be able to voice “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired” instead of falling apart at inopportune moments.
2010: I’d say that this one is accomplished. Not in the sense that this is something that is ever “done” with, but I think it was something we worked on, not just for the kids, but for myself as well.
2011: This is an ongoing exercise for us. Food affects me and the kids so much, and it’s a struggle to respect its power without obsessing or over-focusing on it.
2012: ditto.


Numero tres:
Stick to SP goals.
2010: Well… this one got pushed aside this year. Between being pregnant for the first part of the year, and then grieving throughout the last half of the year, I am just glad I haven’t gained 20lbs. 5 is acceptable and easier to get rid of.
2011: I’m back on the wagon, with some friends to help motivate and keep me accountable. We’ve already started, and are doing well!
2012: meh. I’m working on it.


Numero quatro:
Finish DONA cert.
2010: Eh… I didn’t do this, but it’s still the same ole thing I have been debating about since the beginning. Certification is nice to have, but not necessary and may be too limiting. BFF and I are planning goals for WMC on Monday, so we’ll re-hash this again and decide what we want to do about it.
2011: I can pretty much cross this off my list. I’m not interested in being a doula anymore. I’ve also retired from LLL Leadership this year, so my attention is focused in other areas.
2012: Same; I am happy volunteering with the Beaumont Breastfeeding Coalition when I can and/or the mood strikes with no further obligation. 


Numero cinqo:
Continue de-cluttering house and down-sizing possessions. Get rid of things I don’t love, use or need, including shoes, baby clothes and extra furniture.
2010: This is a mixture of yes and no… yes b/c I have definitely been downsizing, esp over the last couple of months, but the baby clothes and stuff I have kept and will keep as there may be a need for them at some point. We’re still kinda unclear on that point, too.
2011: Ongoing… forever?
2012: ditto…


Nombre six (… switching to French now, because 5 is as high as I can spell en espanol without looking it up. It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.): {edited on 12/31/2010 to add that since ‘cuatro’ is how you spell four in Spanish, it would appear that I can only spell to three…lol. Funny that it took 2 years to realize that.}
Home Improvements: Repaint and redecorate my bedroom and re-finish the kitchen cabinets. Design and complete the mural for the boy’s room, and re-do their decor. Rugs for various rooms, extra storage bins and cabinets, etc…
2010:… not so much. On any of that, actually.
2011:Eh.. some of that got done, some didn’t in 2010. The mural is ever incomplete, but we’re painting everything in a couple of months, so it’s fine.
2012: ongoing… home decor is much more expensive than I previously realized, but we have a plan. My bedroom is done; kids are up next.


Nombre sept:
Work on kids’ scrapbooks and get big pictures into frames. Lapbook the boy’s previous years’ school work. Better organize craft supplies and find the damn high-temp hot glue gun! Get a label maker. Try really hard not to label every single conceivable thing in my house. Figure out where the holiday boxes will live when not in season.
2010: …ditto.
2011: Yeah… not so much. That last part is a big one since we’re losing our storage room in a couple of months!
2012: Still working on some of this; not so much the scrapbooking thing – I’ve been art journaling, not srcapbooking. One day the mood will strike again and I will love it. Until then, it remains in storage. Plans to get the school room storage situation under control this year are underway.


Nombre huit:
Either buy gumballs for the gumball machine or get rid of it.
2010: DONE! We bought more gumballs. There are still some in the machine, too!
2011: Why aren’t all of my resolutions so simple and easy to accomplish?? I think I’ll start adding at least one challenge to my resolutions list. This year: be vegan for a week!
2012: this is a throw-away resolution. I am including at least one every year, I think. 



Nombre neuf:
… That’s all I can think of for now. I need to print this list out for myself so I can keep track of sticking with them. Now, I need to go back and see how I did for last year.
{Edited to add:  found a number nine!} Create outlines for all the story concepts I have written.
2010: Yes and no – I did outlines for some of them and have started an outline for most of them.
2011: I’ve really slacked on my fiction this year. I’ve blogged pretty faithfully though.. does that count?
2012: While not exactly kicking ass, I have been slowly plodding away at my stories. Progress=progress, yes?


As for 2008′s resolutions, Ha! I didn’t write them till the 6th last year, so I’m ahead of the game this year. To recap:


1) It’s called a budget! I need to make one and stick to it. More importantly, I should probably let my loverly husband in on the what’s what so he isn’t surprised by the complete lack of money that we have going.
2009: Yeah… we actually have been doing much better in the cash-flow department this year. I’m fairly proud of that, so I think I can call this one “accomplished” and we’ll say maintain this instead of making it a new resolution.
2010: We did VERY well this year in this regard. I can say that we’re progressing nicely on this front. We eliminated credit cards a couple of years ago, so that’s a big hassle that we don’t have to mess with anymore. This year, we’re funneling more money into savings and retirement. I’m proud of that!
2011: Loverly Husband took over all the budgeting of funds early in 2010, so… yay! He’s better at it than I am. We’re definitely in a better place financially now that we were back in 2007/8. It’s nice to be able to look back and see progress happening.
2012: Loverly Husband is still Mr. Finance. I have less and less to do with money and I like it that way.


2) Complete my Childbirth Doula Certification and Trustbirth Facilitator Application
2009: This is kind of a done deal (DONA) – but I’m making it an actual resolution so that when it’s done I can cross it off the list. Actually, I’m not doing TrustBirth at all – after thinking more about it, I decided it wasn’t for me. It’s not that I disagree with them, exactly, just that I am a little more open-minded about things. As for the birth doula cert, I am still working on it, and am actually doing DONA now instead of CBI, which was what I was looking at then. DONA is different, and either way, I need certain criteria to certify and I haven’t been as on top of it as I had planned. Can I blame part of this on Hurricanes Gustav and Ike?
2010: see above.
2011: Let me explain… I had all of my certification stuff done – all I needed to do was send it in and pay for it. I was waiting on BFF to get her breastfeeding education requirement done so we could submit our applications together, and got pregnant, then miscarried… Since then, I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a doula, and therefore see no reason to pay for the certification. So. That’s the what’s what on this.
2012: ditto…


3) Keep my prescriptions filled and faithfully take my medicines daily … so that I don’t end up needing my rescue inhaler multiple times daily and end up on the nebulizer like I did 2 weeks ago.
2009: I suck at doing this. I HATE taking meds EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s a huge hassle (and could it be any clearer that I am barely taking anything at all right now, which is why I am defensive about it?) I have kept up with asthma and allergy meds though, which is a good thing… so this is a “halfway” for me.
2010: I STILL suck at this. Something about this time of year. I have not been keeping my Rx filled and have been using the neb for the last couple of weeks. Ugh.
2011: Better this year… I’m off of some of them and need to refill others. This is going to be one of those on-going things for me, I think.
2012: ongoing… new meds this year; anti-depressant & anti-anxiety. It’s helping. Now to stick with them.


4) Stick with SparkPeople I slacked off in about August, so I’m starting over with that, kinda. So far, a week in and I’m doing well, so go me!
2009: Since I’m basically starting over again, and it’s on this year’s list, I guess  didn’t keep this one either.
2010: See above.
2011: Ditto this year… I lost 80lbs the first go-round with SP, then my weight-loss plateaued and I got discouraged. I managed to keep it off for a while, then have, over the course of 3 or 4 years, have put back on about 30lbs. That sucks. So, along with a couple of friends, I’m re-committing myself. It’s in 2011′s #5.
2012: *expletive deleted*


5) Wear hats more often because I like them.
2009: Ha! I SO did :) I bought, like 4 new hats and have worn them all. And they look awesome, if I do say so myself. Go me!
2010: I’m still keeping this one faithfully :) That makes me happy.
2011: ditto :) My hat collection is ever-growing and still awesome.
2012: chapeaux + NicCuinn = even more awesome as time goes by. This remains one of my favorite NYR’s.


6) WRITE!! I have no less than 7 stories outlined, and 5 more concepts written that I need to work on if they are ever to become actual reading material. So my goal is to devote a little time each week to write something, even if I don’t like it and end up deleting it.
2009: Fleshing out already-written storylines? No. Adding all the newly thought-of concepts into word.docs? Yes! So another half-assed accomplishment on my part. I’m going to add “making an outline for all story concepts” above.
2010: I have been feeling more creative lately and have started a couple of new concepts that need to be fleshed out. As long as I keep doing that, I am happy with this level of progress.
2011:Yeah… homeschooling leaves very little time for writing fiction. That’s a total cop-out, but that’s my excuse for doing absolutely NO writing this year, fiction-wise. I did come up with a new non-fiction concept for a children’s book series, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten with it. I’m making notes on it now (like right this minute …. okay – I have an overview of the series written now) – so that’s something, at least, lol.
2012: And Skying/collaborating with AnnA. Lots of it.


7) Maintain the clutter-clearage that’s been going on. because I don’t want to end up like one of those people with an un-livable home due to all the unusable crap stored in it, I’m going to continue whittling down my collectibles (not that there’s that many that aren’t in printed format) and other assorted crap so that it at least looks like we have space in our house.
2009: I guess I’m kind-of on the same page as last year with this. I got rid of a TON of crap over the past year, so this is another “maintaining” for me. I’ll leave it as above though, because I have more specific goals in mind for this year.
2010: see above
2011: ditto
2012: ditto


8). Make more time for me. As a wife and mom, I have a full plate – add starting a new business to that and you can see how much time I don’t have. So my goal is to take a few hours sans anyone else and concentrate on me once a week (if I can swing that, but once a month is probably more realistic).
2009: This has been a lot easier since both boys have been in school. So I guess I’ll mark that as an “accomplished” too.
2010: I have been keeping this one.
2011: Oh, I just thought I was busy before…homeschooling is possibly the biggest challenge I’ve undertaken yet. It requires almost constant thought and attention on my part. On the plus side, my Loverly Husband is incredibly supportive and has both encouraged and made it easy for me to go exercise with my sister or grab coffee with a friend in the evenings. My resolution for this year is to stop feeling guilty about it!
2012: Yes – homeschooling time commitment is eternal. Coffee out and a weekend trip to Ren Faire with the girls this past year was amazing. Definitely on the list of traditions to continue. Also, meeting more personal spiritual nourishment goals has helped. Planning to continue in this vein.


9) Whole Mothering Center I don’t know how much we will be able accomplish this year due to external factors, but I want us to accomplish all that we three are able to.
2009: The “three” isn’t the same three as it was when this was written, and I think that we’ve done pretty well. We’re well into our 2nd year, and with the Ike evacs and BFF’s birth, the last few months have been slow, but we’re gearing up for an eventful year with WMC. So this is another thing I think I can say “accomplished” on.
2010: 2009 was rough on many fronts. I am hoping that 2010 will be a better year for WMC.
2011: I’ve pretty much phased myself out of WMC. BFF is continuing with her own plans, including starting midwifery school in Jan 2011, and I will be involved as much as I can, but it’s pretty much her show now. My attention and focus is elsewhere these days, and though I miss being in the place in my life where WMC was my dream, I’m excited about what the future now holds, both for my BFF and WMC and for myself.
2012: I miss being involved, but am so glad to see BFF continue meeting her goals. Also very glad to see WMC and the BBC flourish, if not quite in the ways we’d first envisioned. I am still proud to be part of the community of support for natural mothering in our area. My attention is still focused elsewhere, but my future goals are leaning in a similar direction – I’d like to go to school and work in counseling with new mothers and families once my kids are grown.


10) (because ten is a nice, round, reasonable number) I can’t think of anything else, but I’m going to format this like there is an actual resolution here anyway. because it looks better and because I can. So there.
LOL – I think it’s funny that I can only ever think of nine. I did the same thing this year. But it’s edited to add the writing one update ;)
2012: nine has become the tradition. I see no reason to alter that now!



That last bit still makes me smile. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone else’s resolutions and to seeing how you fared from last year. Good luck reaching them and Happy New Year!!

Warmly,
~h

The Mom I Am vs. The Mom I WannaBe

So I’ve been thinking about ‘celebrating the mom I am’ in response to an article over at Mothering Magazine. I love this article. I could have written it (in a ‘standpoint-wise’, not ‘talent-wise’ sort of way, I mean).

I try. All of us here in our house try. We wake up almost daily with yoga, meditation and reminders to be kind to each other. I need these things as much as the kids do!

Overall, I am pretty happy with the kind of mom I am. I know my strengths and am mostly fair about acknowledging my weaknesses, but there are always ‘those’ moms out there who make everything look so darn easy. I hate them as much as I envy them.. even while I know that the image they present is probably not the length and breadth of their mothering, it still stings a little when I see someone I perceive to be doing a better job than I am.

Along those lines is the ever-patient mom who never wants to be away from her kids. Her older kids, I should say. Lately, I’ve been contemplating the way I feel when I leave my children somewhere – at Gramps’ house or on rare opportunities to go out with the Girls and leave the kids home with Loverly Husband. As much as I needed to be with them when they were small and did not want or feel like I required time away from them as babies, I really need to be without them sometimes now. As a militant strong advocate of attachment parenting, this is an odd feeling to have.

I have joy when I get to go somewhere without them. The pure glee of being able to think only of and for myself is so nice… and I am at odds, emotionally with this feeling. Mentally, I see it as a developmentally appropriate step, and also a sanity-saving one. I love my Loverly Husband to bits and pieces, but put us in a small space for a prolonged period of time and he bugs the ever-loving snot out of me. My children, though part of me, are no less individuals – whole people – who, at times, are very, very annoying people. Like any other person, there does come a time when I wish to divest myself of their company for a while.

I’m a better mother – and homeschool teacher – when I have time away. I think that the time/togetherness factor is a big one for homeschooling parents. Other parents get 7+ hours, 5 days a week during the school year to re-group. I think that’s a little much for me; I’d be content with a few hours, consistently, once a week or so. When my kids were small, my sister and one of our friends had a babysitting co-op that we did every Monday. I am seriously considering looking for people to do this with again. Funny, I didn’t realize how seriously I was considering that until I typed it out – but I guess I am.

I think that part of celebrating the mom I am also entails looking for areas where I need to improve and taking steps to do so. I’ve mentioned before doing the Non-Violent Communication Workbook, and have been putting it off. In recent months, my grandmother’s health has been deteriorating, so my parents are moving in with her. This is an understandably difficult transition for all of them, but the dysfunctional communication that I’ve always known was there is rampant.

It’s ugly.

Nonviolent Communication Companion Workbook: A Practical Guide for Individual, Group or Classroom Study (Nonviolent Communication Guides)

It’s harsh – and I realized that that’s how I sound when I talk to my kids sometimes. Talk about an eye-opener. Plus, as  cycles are wont to do, I’m starting to see those communicative malfunctions in my kids. So in a Herculean effort to break this destructive cycle, we started the NVC Workbook together last week, as part of our school work. We’re on week one/chapter one, and I have another post in the works that details some of the chapter and workbook. So far, so good; we made posters that detail the four main points of NVC: What do I see? Feel? Need? and How can you help (request for action)? We’ve been practicing, and it’s going to tale a while to change the pattern, but it’s worth the effort to do so.

I’ve also been upping my meditation time. I have a space in my new bedroom that is dedicated to such internal musings, and I am making daily use of it. I’ve also been working on the 60 Ways to Nurture Myself list, trying to implement at least one daily; more if possible.

What about you? What does ‘being comfortable with the mom you are’ mean to you?

Warmly,

~h


The Meanest Homeschool Mom

And thus has the devil-may-care, relaxed lifestyle to which my children have become accustomed come to an abrupt end.

Recently, some of the parents that I share a homeschooling discussion chat list with were talking about being overwhelmed as a homeschooling parent. I was going to chime in, but decided to put my contribution in blog form and post it here, because it would be a long post and I enjoy monopolizing the conversation.

It seems like since my FIL died, we’ve been thrown off kilter. For whatever reason (nothing directly related to his death – just the time frame), we have not been able to get back into a good, consistent daily routine. I came to the realization that we have simply got to make some changes around here a week or two ago when I lost my schmidt ( with a nod and a wink to Rants from Mommyland) after dealing with whiney, uncooperative and lazy children for several days in a row. I need to clarify that this wasn’t a mere moment of frustration; this was the final straw on a huge pile of hay. I completely and utterly lost it and in one of those spectacular displays of Mommy Mayhem, announced to the children that a New World Order had arrived.

From now on, I declared, there would be no more luxuries they have come to expect – no recreational television viewing, no video games, no dsi playing. It wasn’t that they are ‘grounded’. Being ‘grounded’ implies a punishment of some sort that, after whatever time limits have passed, shall be lifted. No, I explained in the Mommy Has Had It voice, this is more that they are simply no longer have any of those privileges. At all. And so shall it remain until I see a dramatic and sustained improvement in attitude and application of self to schoolwork and basic picking up after self-ness.

This may seem a bit extreme to some, but Loverly Husband and I see this as an overall positive step for our family. It got to the point that I was outright angry irritated all the time about having to try to get the kids to do their work and pick up the mess they made. They’re not incapable, they’re unwilling – and that doesn’t work for me. It seemed like every day, I was cajoling and pleading and threatening and bargaining with them to accomplish even the most basic of assignments, or reminding them several times to do a task (like: put your shoes on the shelf. – 15 minutes later – Put your shoes on the shelf. -15 minutes later – PUT YOUR SHOES ON THE FRAKKIN’ SHELF!) and then whining when I say that they can’t play/watch/do until XYZ is done (but Mooooom… that’s not fair!!). That sense of entitlement and no work ethic was buggin’ the crap outta me.

We tried things before this: chore charts, a stapled packet of school work, timers, attaching chores to money/video game time – nothing has worked consistently. And no matter what I asked or required, there was always – always – something that had to be done before they could do whatever task (no matter how small). LBB is the Champion of Stall and his tactics are legion. When the physical stall tactics run out, he has mental check-outs that he engages in, better and deeper than anyone I’ve ever seen. Makes me insane.

So we took a drastic step to see if we can curb some of that. We’re two weeks in, and though The Stall is still around, I’m in a better mood and we’re accomplishing more school work (though it still takes LBB all day sometimes). We are using the timer still – a reasonable amount of time is given for an assignment and when the timer dings, we move on. If you haven’t finished it, then that’s your ‘homework’ – for you to do on YOUR time while the rest of us are enjoying whatever leisure activity we have planned for that day. Doing it this way sucks for whoever is indulging in The Stall on their school time, but doesn’t punish the one who did do his work that day (and amazingly, they both have their days – it’s like Goofus and Gallant tag-teaming Mom most days… le sigh). It also keeps me from feeling resentful at having to skip whatever field trip we’d planned on doing – we don’t skip it; approximately 137% of our field trips are in some way school-related and I don’t want to skip them because someone prefers to make sound effects rather then write his paper. What this means is that someone may have to do his remaining schoolwork that evening while the rest of us play, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles, Chief. I’ve been stressing Time Management in a big way lately and though the situation looks bleak, I remain hopeful that this lesson will one day sink in.

The other, known but forgotten, benefit to the ‘no TV’ thing is that I just plain enjoy my children more when there is not a constant stream of television in the background. It’s not like they’re allowee to watch all that much to begin with, but I know how convenient TV can be, and I am not above letting the TV engage the kids for an hour while I get a break from the never-ending chorus of mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom,mom,mom,mom,mom,mom. I’ve realized it in the past when we’ve banned TV for whatever reason, but it’s always surprising to see how much more creative and more willing to try new creative things when they aren’t mentally calculating how much longer it will be before they can watch TV or play that next level.

Like I said, we’re two weeks in, and though life is not perfect, I think we’re on the right path. They’re slow to adjusting, but they don’t ask ‘now can we watch TV?’ 6,000 times a day, so I’m calling that progress.

Warmly,

~h (aka: The Meanest Homeschool Mom)

Things that are Not Banned: bike riding, board games, swimming/slip-n-slide/sprinkler play, play dough/modeling clay and other sculpting mediums, wood carving and burning, helping Grandmother and Grammie and Gramps (all of whom live next door), visiting with friends, going to the park, fishing, hiking, art journaling, reading, trampoline – anything that requires physical or mental effort, engages the mind, body and spirit… so I’m not a total ogre.


Ten Habits of Happy Homeschooling Moms

Mothering Magazine recently mentioned “The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity,” by Meg Meeker, MD on their Facebook page. I haven’t read it, but it got me thinking about the things I did as a new mom and the things I’ve learned as a more experienced mom.

I’ve been a reader of Mothering since 1998ish – I was a nanny, and the mom’s sister sent a gift subscription to the mom one year for Christmas. She was a more mainstream type, but I fell in love and have been a fan ever since. The first issue I read was about cow’s milk and another one was on toys made with PVC plastics, I think. Reading about their recent changes makes me so sad that Mothering will no longer be a resource for new moms – at least not in the magazine form. I understand the need for the changes; I just hate that we’ll lose this wonderful asset.

Motheirng was such a validating resource for me when my kids were small. I could (and still can) pick up any issue and read about families who do things like we do, or read articles about things that are important to me. I learned a lot about things I probably wouldn’t have heard about otherwise and many of my preconceived notions on things like healthcare (Western medicine vs. naturalistic/homeopathic remedies), discipline, communication and more have been challenged by reading what Peggy O’Mara and her staff have written. How unfortunate that those topics will no longer be addressed on mainstream magazine racks. Print media is so non-confrontational; you have to look for things online but a magazine might turn up in a doctor’s office or something and plant an idea or piqué your interest about a topic you might not have thought about before.

In any case, I’m a fan of ‘top ten’ lists, so I thought I would make my own top ten list of habits that make for Happy Homeschooling Moms. Your mileage may vary, so feel free to comment with your own additions or a link to your blog with your own list. I’m especially curious how homeschooling dads might write this list.

10. HHM’s have let go of the notion of Getting it RightTM . If there’s one thing I know for certain, it is that there is no one right way to homeschool. The variations on normal are myriad and ever-changing. Even within one family, what works for one child may not for the others. Embracing the diversity within your family (and the homeschooling community at large) and making alterations that fit your own family’s style are essential to homeschooling harmony.

9. HHM’s don’t compare. Whether its one child with another within your own family, your family to another homeschooling family, or your kids to kids in public school – happiness is wholeheartedly appreciating your own unique strengths when it comes to homeschooling style and accomplishments. Contrary to popular belief, there is no Queen of Homeschooling (though if there were, I would certainly be She {wink and nod to those who get this}). Every style of homeschooling has strengths and weaknesses and every homeschooling mom’s personality and personal style will flavor her efforts with tweaks and kinks that may intrigue or irritate onlookers. Draw inspiration from things you like and ignore things that don’t blow your skirt up.

8. HHM’s take time to appreciate the beauty of where they are right now. It doesn’t matter how old your kids are, there is always a very interesting and totally awesome project on the horizon… if only they were a little bit older/knew their times tables/had a physics degree. The temptation to push gently nudge and encourage those little fingers to move faster or that energetic body to sit still for five more minutes is profound. In most families, if the kids turn out badly, then the schools can blame the parents and the parents can blame the schools – when you’re homeschooling, it’s ALL on your shoulders. The pressure to turn out prodigies is lessening as homeschooling gains popularity among the normal population, but it’s still there. Sane homeschooling parents know that each place on this academic journey has lovely sights to see and aren’t afraid to bookmark the cool stuff while focusing on the here and now.

7. HHM’s have a safe and supportive place to vent. Homeschooling is hard. It’s stressful and there are days when you really want to (say that you want to) throw in the towel. Having a safe place to say that, out loud (or type it in bold caps) and know that not once will you hear a comment to the effect of “well, why don’t you just put them in public school?!” is genuinely priceless. Whether that’s your mom, your BFF or an online forum, having a place that you can say things you don’t really mean and get commiseration rather than condemnation is something that every homeschooling parent should have at his or her fingertips.

6. HHM’s pace themselves. You have PLENTY of time to educate your child ‘properly’. If a homeschooled child can accomplish 8 hours worth of daily work in half the time, then you could complete a full 12 years worth of education inside of 6 years. While I’m not necessarily advocating that, I’m just sayin’… you’ve got time. Without having to deal with the needs of 20+ children, line up and change classes, the amount of time you’re spending each day on lessons is usually significantly less than your child’s institutionally educated brethren.  With all that extra time on your hands you can take a walk or do an awesome art project with the kids, or you can send them outside to play and curl up with a cup of coffee while reading your favorite trashy romance novel instead (with a nod in J.R. Ward‘s general direction).

5. HHM’s foster a daily personal connect with each child, individually. One of the absolute best things about homeschooling is the sheer amount of face time that you get, one on one, with your kids. Not just academically, though seeing them grasp new concepts and watching their creativity bloom is fulfilling, but being a constant presence in their lives and seeing them grow into the people they will become is incredible.

4. HHM’s get out of the house! Just because it’s called ‘home’ schooling doesn’t mean that you should ever be stuck at home. When you’re homeschooling, school is portable. That means that if you have to go out, or if you want to go out, you absolutely can. Whether to the yard or to the park (city, state or national), getting out-of-doors and into the sun can play a big role in reviving your spirit. A change of scenery and fresh air can pull you out of a slump, get you out a funk or make a static lesson lively and enthralling.

3. HHM’s take the time to plan for lessons or activities and set up in advance. Dedicating a portion of your personal down time to planning and preparing for activities or lessons isn’t the most fun thing for a weary mom to do, but it’s a sacrifice that pays off in the long run. There’s nothing more frustrating or time-consuming than having to stop in the middle of a groove to find a key component to what project you’re doing and good planning can make for smooth days, which is always a plus in the happiness column.

2. HHM’s take regular breaks away from the kids. Homeschooling is a 24/7 gig. Even when you’re not actively schooling, homeschooling means that in the back of your mind, there’s a chick in librarian’s glasses sitting at a desk with a clipboard calculating the educational value of any given activity. To get her to shut up, the children must either be asleep or away from you. Regular breaks to refill your Cup O’ Patience is essential – and you’re not allowed to feel guilty about it either. Unlike a ‘real’ job, work can never be left at home (unless you go out, without them), so taking breaks is vital to maintaining balance on the Tilt-A-Whirl that is the life of a homeschooling super-parent.

1. HHM’s remember that this is supposed to be fun! Homeschooling is one of those areas where mom’s attitude really can set the tone. Keeping all the above in check goes a long way towards keeping you on an even keel, but the heart of the matter is always going to be in your hands. If you’re not having fun, or your kids are not having fun, then it’s time to have a look-see and make some tweaks. Even if that means taking a week (or a month, or a year) off to re-group, see point number 6 and then DO IT.

So, that’s my list. What would go on yours?

Warmly,

~h


Homeschool Teacher’s Retreat Weekend

This weekend, our homeschool group offered a ‘teacher’s retreat weekend’. This is the first one we’ve planned, and though there were just a couple of us that got to go, I’d say it was a rousing success. We had a ‘planned but flexible’ schedule that was originally envisioned as a camping retreat, but due to the weekend weather forecast, we ended up changing the location to a local hotel. That worked out splendidly since that meant we were still in town and thus able to hit a couple of stores over the course of the weekend.

We started the weekend off with a trip to a new scrapbooking store and take-out pizza and spiced rum.  Our local library lost one of their storage buildings and so had a sale Friday and Saturday – thousands of books and magazines for 10 cents each. I took the kids out there Friday morning and collected a bunch of picture books and vintage magazines to cut up for art journaling. SFK & PB&JMom went browsing before they came to pick me up, and we all brought crafting supplies for the weekend. We went back to the hotel and spent most of Friday evening painting gesso onto book pages cutting out pictures and words to paste into altered book art journals.

We stayed up until about 3AM, and were up by 6:30AM Saturday morning due to the extremely uncomfortable beds and construction going on. Two words: Tile. Saw. Holy cow… they neglected to mention the construction that was going on over the entire third floor (which is where we were) of the hotel when we checked in, so when the saw started up, we got dressed and went back out to the book sale to see if there were any magazines left. When we got back to the hotel, we asked to switch rooms, which was a pain since we all had bags full of books and art supplies in addition to clothing, but the downstairs room was better – slightly more space and less tile dust to deal with. There was the ‘clink, clink, clink’ of a hammer removing tile on the floor above us for a couple of hours, but they comp’d one of the nights for us, so I guess we can’t complain too much…

Our retreat agenda included various meditation exercises, and we got to most of them. We did a nesting meditation that was slightly different from this one, also a guided exercise that had us coloring mandalas, then cutting them up and sharing them with each other. We tried for yoga, but the rooms were too small for us to stretch out effectively, so we skipped that part. Coffee and silence played a big role throughout the weekend. I was kind of surprised at that; usually we talk a lot but this weekend was full of quiet. I think that we’re all ‘on’ so much of the time that it was nice to take advantage of companionable silence and not have to be mentally engaged with someone the whole day.

We had a lovely Italian dinner Saturday night, then more crafting and wrapped up Sunday afternoon with a check-out in the freezing, windy rain, a shopping excursion (where I picked up a spiffy new blue handbag) and lunch at a Chinese Bistro. After being gone all weekend, I was expecting to return home refreshed, but the truth is that I ended up smooching my oblivious kids (‘Oh, you were gone all weekend, Mom? Weird.’) and napping for an hour on the couch, then letting my Loverly Husband make dinner and going to bed early.

Today was spent sleeping in a bit, then cracking the whip in my own general direction to get back on-task with school. We were all kind of out of sorts today; it was hard to stay focused on school work. We usually have a tough time getting back into the normal routine when there’s a disruption in the schedule, but we usually adapt pretty quick so I am expecting tomorrow to be better. Hope your week is off to a good start!

Warmly,

~h


Instead of Vaccinations

There is a lot of info out there on ‘why you shouldn’t vaccinate’ and personal stories about ‘why we don’t vaccinate’. A little harder to find but still available is info on alternatives to vaccination, like homeopathic ‘vaccines’ and making your own. But there really isn’t much out there that is from a personal perspective that says  ‘this is what we do instead of vaccinating’, so I decided to share our secrets to health despite not following the recommended vaccination schedule.

To begin with, I think it must be said/reiterated that choosing not to vaccinate is in no way saying, “Now we are risk-free”.  Please don’t assume that just by not vaccinating, you’re now 100% safe, health-wise. we all know that there are no guarantees in life. By not vaccinating, you’re accepting the possibility that your child may come down with whooping-cough (pertussis), or polio, or diphtheria… of course, vaccinating is not a guarantee that your child won’t come down with the same, but that’s not really what this post is about. Choosing not to vaccinate merely means that you deem the risk of an adverse reaction to a vaccine more likely than being exposed to/contracting/dying from the disease it is supposed to prevent.

One of the main things that I feel is important when choosing not to vaccinate is to familiarize yourself with the illness that the vaccine is for and get a better idea of what the real risks associated with that disease are. First, you’ll want to evaluate what your chances of even being exposed to a  ‘vaccine preventable diseases’ . In many cases, it’s been decades since there was an ‘outbreak’, and in many of those cases, and outbreak consisted of less than 50 victims. Most VPDs are not instantly fatal as the propaganda would have you believe. Even dreaded polio is not the wheelchair-inevitable fate that media has made it appear. In fact, less than 1% of people who contract polio have the paralytic variety, and of those paralysis is not always permanent. Though polio is not one of them, many illnesses can be treated with simple antibiotics. If you’re choosing not to vaccinate, then be proactive – learn about treatment options for those illnesses and most importantly, learn what not to do. Though treating symptoms might be fine in some instances, in others it’s best to let nature run its course.

(1) Breastfeeding. This is a big one – possibly the single most beneficial thing that we did that helps protect our kids the most against many of the things that they might need a vaccine for.Colostrum is baby’s first vaccine. I cannot overstate how important breastfeeding is from a biological standpoint, especially when you’re talking about the immune system. There are so many components in human breast milk that scientists cannot even identify, much less figure out what their function is. So when formulas say they’re “more like breastmilk”, that only hold true in that they’re both matter in liquid form. Breastmilk is a LIVING ever-changing substance that is tailor-made to your child’s immediate and evolving needs. Formula is a (hopefully – when it’s not contaminated and recalled) sterile and inert substance that is created from a by-product of the dairy industry. If you want the down and dirty truth about the formula industry, check out Milk, Money and Madness by Naomi Baumslag.

I breastfed my kids for right at 3 years (slightly longer with LittleBoyBlue, slightly less than with PeaGreen). In total, I spent over 4 years continuously breastfeeding, which has a TON of benefits for ME, too. Breastfeeding has long-term benefits to the immune system that artificial formula feeding simply cannot replicate. Some people (doctors included) are mistaken in believing that the immunological benefits of breast milk start to decline or deteriorate after a certain point, however research does not back that claim.

(2) Don’t Panic. There is research that suggests that certain childhood diseases play a role in strengthening the immune system and lessening the likelihood of developing things like asthma and allergies as the child ages. So in light of that, we try to be realistic in dealing with illnesses and not panic just because they’re sick (which has been thankfully rare). Now, keep in mind that some things are genetic – I have severe environmental and some food allergies and asthma. Because of this, there is a strong probability that some or all of my offspring will have some type of allergy and/or respiratory issues, and they do. Both my boys have environmental allergies and PeaGreen takes a daily script in allergy season to keep the breathing treatments to a minimum. Because of MY genetics, no amount of breastfeeding, herbs or whatever is going to be proof against such things. I know that thanks to breastfeeding, my kids don’t have issues anywhere near as bad as they might have had we not breastfed. Ear infections were a non-issue until LittleBoyBlue started Kindergarten (though since they’ve been homeschooled, neither has been sick a single day – not so much as a cold; contrasted with the last 2 years and multiple sinus infections for LittleBoyBlue. Do I think homeschooling plays a role in my kids good health? ABSOLUTELY)…. which brings me to my next point:

(3) Homeschooling. After dealing with our first ear and sinus infections once my kids started school, not to mention the numerous coughs, colds and other various sniffles and ailments – I am convinced that schools are breeding grounds for infection. Not that it’s their fault, exactly. Anyone who has one will tell you that kids are nasty little creatures. Most have a near-impermeable outer shell of dirt and contagious bacteria that is next to impossible to crack. You get 20+ kids in a room all day for months on end and you’re going to have some unhealthy growths going on in there no matter how much hand-sanitizer you squirt on them. Plus, we teach our kids to share, so that’s also a big problem during flu season since they do, indeed, share… germs! It’s not necessarily the kids that are the issue (though they are carriers…). It’s that they’re all in ONE room most of the time, day in and day out. Homeschooling is obviously not going to expose your kids to a room full of pent-up and breeding germs (unless you’re the world’s worst housekeeper – but even then, they’re YOUR germ and your kids have a sort of natural immunity to germs that your family breeds… which brings me to my next point…).

(4) Home Birth. Now, I must point out that I did not have either of my kids at home, but if I were to have another, that would definitely be the plan. I had my first in the hospital with a midwife (a compromise with my husband, who was adamantly against home birth at the time) and we spent 3 days in the hospital (only 2 after he was born). We limited visitors, but there were always a ton of hospital personnel in and out, carrying various hospital germs with them. With my second, we looked more in-depth into planing a home birth but ultimately decided against it because our choice of attendant was severely limited. I had PeaGreen in a Houston hospital, again with a midwife, and we were home 24 hours after his birth. That was awesome! We had way less personnel in our room, and since it was farther away we had virtually no visitors, which was nice. The point of all that is that even with limited exposure, hospitals are truly for those who are injured, ill or dying. They’re breeding grounds for drug-resistant bacteria and super-microbes that your average bug only wishes to be. That’s one reason why they want to limit hospital stays for new moms and babes (the other being that insurance companies don’t want to continue footing the bill once you’ve popped that kid out). The germs that are in your home are yours. Your body and immune system, and hence, your baby’s, are already exposed to and used to the germs that belong to you and your family.

(5) See a Chiropractor. Chiropractic care can have positive benefits to the immune system. I really wish that I had learned about the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy and for babies. I’ve taken my kids both to the chiro, and after some initial apprehension, they both love going (in fact, we need to go again soon!). I am also an advocate of chiro care – after my births, I had some issues with my bones that didn’t move back into their proper positions, which caused some pain that I just dealt with for years. Once I started seeing a chiro and had a six-week therapy program, the pain was mostly gone. Now I am supposed to go in for maintenance every  6 weeks or so.

(6) Probiotics, herbs, nutrition and dietary supplements also play a big part in keeping my family healthy. There are tons of homeopathic blends that are designed to target specific areas of health. We take a cold and sinus blend during flu season, and an allergy blend during times when our allergies are not flaring up (when we use prescription meds – because breathing is always beneficial to your health). We also use various vitamin and probiotic supplements to keep healthy flora growing to offset the nasty stuff, especially when we’re done with a prescription. This kind of thing is super easy to add to smoothies or into plain water (the homeopathic liquids) since they have no taste. When my kiddos were babes, we delayed solid foods and I made their baby food – well, with LittleBoyBlue, I did. With PeaGreen, we didn’t do baby food at all; we went straight to table food. Naturally, that much attention to what they were eating carried over into our food, and I can happily say that we are much more conscious of what goes into our mouths since we’ve had children. Not that we don’t eat out, or eat fast food – because we do. We just try to limit it, and make sure that most of what we buy and prepare at home is truly good for us.

(7) Get Dirty. We also make sure that our kids get lots of time outside in the dirt. I mentioned before the outer coating of dirt and bacteria – since they get bathed fairly regularly (not daily – we’re not ultra-kleen-freeks here), it’s important to replace that grit and grime so that they stay healthy. We also try to limit our exposure to toxic chemicals in our home. We mostly use natural cleaning products (though I occasionally must bleach…) and vent well if we’re using something that has fumes.

So that’s about it. And thought I’m no scientist, I can say that based on preliminary results, this method is safe and effective. My kids have yet to come down with a single VPD, and are both quite healthy overall. They’re growing well and seem to be thriving in spite of the dire predictions from vaccine supporters.

What do you do?

Warmly,

~h


A Week in Review (with pictures!)

One of the best things about homeschooling is that when you wake up and KNOW that if you try to follow the prescribed plan for the day you will accomplish nothing, you can change the day’s plans on the fly and without a problem. Our Tuesday this week was one such day.

I chart my fertility cycles, so it is rare that something happens with my body that is unexpected. Yesterday, I woke up to a surprisingly unexpected visit from “aunt flo” if you know what I mean. In light of recent events (including a surprise pregnancy last April and tragic miscarriage last June, plans to TTC again put on hold due to gall bladder surgery and now unsuccessful TTCing for the past few months), this visit was not a pleasant event, and did not bode well for Mom’s patience and ability to focus on “doing school”…

So, we took our homeschooling selves on a field trip. Completely unplanned, and not really related to anything we’re studying right now, but that’s okay. I took the boys to the Texas Energy Museum and we learned all about how crude oil is manufactured into gasoline, and about the history and founding of our city. One of the coolest features about this museum is that they have mannequins at various places throughout, in period dress, outfitted with a holographic projector that makes it seem as if there is a person standing there talking to you, telling their story. It’s really, really neat and kinda disturbing at the same time.

This museum opened during the years I was homeschooled, and my mom organized a big homeschoolers field trip there. The holograms made a lasting impression, so I was keen on the idea of my boys seeing them. Unfortunately, all but one of them were non-functioning. Grr…  Not a big deal, since we can go back anytime, but still.

We had lunch and went to Goodwill to scrounge through there books (I get a lot of books from there) and then made our way back home for some Wii entertainments. Overall, it was a much better day than I had anticipated, and I am very glad that we are in a position to adjust the day’s plans and activities to meet our needs.

Wednesday was more “on track”; we had a super early school day and then went to playgroup, lunch, the library and to visit some friends to welcome their new baby. Thursday was the last day of our school week, so we had spelling and math tests, art appreciation and a trip to the dentist in the afternoon for teeth-cleaning, and then to the grocery store.

Thursday evening, I spent cutting fabric for quilts for the boys’ beds – well, soon to be. we’re getting bunk beds and need decor. Unfortunately, it’s expensive and none of it seems to “grow” with them that we like, so I’m making bed-spread quilts for them both. I have made quilted blankets before, but this is my first (and second) real patchwork-pieced quilt. I’m excited about finishing them. I’m working on both of them simultaneously and have no idea how long it will take. So far, I have this:

I’ve also been working on some homeschooling-related sewing projects. One of the things I wanted to have was a wall chart with clear pockets for words and sentence construction (kinda like this one), but they’re expensive – $20 or more, depending on size. I found black nylon at Joann’s yesterday for $2.00 and got clear vinyl for $4.00 and made this:

I also wanted a place value chart like this one, but again, didn’t want to pay that much when I knew I could make one, so I did. This is made from leftover vinyl from the pocket chart and a scrap of fabric that I had lying around, and I made all of the cards from sentence strips and index cards.

In effect, for free! I truly enjoy making “stuff” more than clothing. I never could get into making clothes, especially for myself, but craft-sewing – I am all about craft sewing!

Warmly,

~h


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